Today – 7th July, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Donald Trump have held their first meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany, and reportedly exchanged viewpoints on a host of international problems and bilateral issues.
Sitting next to Putin on the sidelines of the economic summit in the northern German city of Hamburg, Trump voiced optimism that there would be “very positive things” in store for the relations between Washington and Moscow, and that it was “an honor” to be with Putin.
“We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia and the United States,” Trump said.
The US president did not provide any further details about the array of issues he and the Russian leader had conferred, simply terming them as “various things.”
Putin, speaking to reporters through a translator, stated that he had discussed the foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, clashes in eastern Ukraine as well as fight against terrorism with Trump.
The Russian president went on to say that cyber security was also among topics he talked with his US counterpart.
The White House said in advance that the meeting was initially planned to last for 35 minutes, but it extended well beyond that and clocked in at two hours and 16 minutes.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who described the meeting as “very robust and lengthy,” were also present at the meeting.
Tillerson added that Trump pressed Putin about Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, a charge the Russian leader denied.
Briefing reporters in Hamburg following the meeting, Lavrov said Trump agreed with Putin that the meddling allegations against Russia are baseless.
“Trump mentioned that in US certain circles still inflate subject of Russian meddling in elections, even though they have no proof,” the Russian foreign minister stated.
Trump has not been able to deliver on his election campaign pledge of rapprochement with Russia due to ongoing investigations into the Russian meddling allegations and his reported campaign ties with Moscow.
The two leaders “had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement,” said the US secretary of state, adding, “The two leaders agreed that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability of us to move the Russian-US relationship forward.”
Tillerson added that Trump and Putin agreed to work on commitments of “non-interference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as those in other countries.”
Trump, Putin didn’t want to ‘stop’
The US secretary of state also said that neither Trump nor Putin intended to wrap up the meeting, which was initially scheduled to last for 35 minutes.
He added that at the 80-minute mark, White House aides sent First Lady Melania Trump into the meeting to try to break it up, but to no avail, and the meeting lasted for another hour as “there was so much to talk about.”
Earlier in the day, Putin had said that face-to-face meetings between Russian and US leaders were essential in case Moscow and Washington wanted to sort out critical issues together.
“Phone conversations are never enough definitely,” Putin said. “If you want to have a positive outcome in bilateral ties and be able to resolve most international policy issues, that will really need personal meetings.”