Trump and Putin meet at last - Full Gist NG


Friday, 7 July 2017

Trump and Putin meet at last

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have shaken hands and exchanged pleasantries at the G20 summit in Hamburg, in a warm-up for their planned, formal sit-down meeting later on Friday.

The first confirmed face-to-face encounter between the two men was captured in a video posted to Facebook by the German cabinet.

Trump and Putin meet at last

As officials gathered around a table, Trump stretched out his hand to Putin and then patted his elbow as both men smiled. Trump then casually patted Putin on the back as they stood side by side.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin and Trump “shook hands and told each
other that they will shortly have a separate meeting”.

The long-anticipated sit-down, scheduled for 3.45pm (2.45pm BST/9.45am ET), is taking place against an inauspicious backdrop, after the US president accused Russia of acting as a destabilising force determined to test the will of the west.

On Thursday Trump used a speech in Warsaw to urge Russia to “cease its destabilising activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran”.

The US president called on Russia to “join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defence of civilisation itself”.

The meeting will be closely watched to see whether Trump brings up Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump and Putin will be joined by Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.

Russian government sources said the talks would focus on the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts, the war on terror, strategic security and bilateral issues. Likely flashpoints include North Korea’s successful ballistic missile test and the use by the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, of chemical weapons.

Faced by an increasingly anti-Russian sentiment in the media and the US Senate, fuelled by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Trump is expected to take a tough line with Putin.

Russia plans to raise the issue about the return of the two seized Russian diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York.

Lavrov and Putin represent the vastly more experienced team, as Putin meets his third and most unpredictable US president.

There are some frustrations in the camp of the German host, Angela Merkel, that her carefully prepared summit agenda, including a compact to build private investment for Africa, is being overshadowed by the hype surrounding Trump and Putin.

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