Talks could include Ukraine, Syria.
*This post will be updated as more information comes out.*
President Donald Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
At first, media thought Trump would not bring up accusations that Russia interfered with our presidential election in 2016. But after the two hour meeting ended, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that is the first topic Trump brought up.
Trump started by “raising the concerns of the American people” over Russian meddling and “pressed” Putin on the issue “on more than one occasion,” according to Tillerson, who sat in on the meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany.
Putin again denied trying to influence the election. Tillerson called the denial a “hindrance in the ability of us to move the U.S.-Russia relationship forward.”
The secretary of state said the president “is rightly focused on how do we move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point.”
Tillerson does not know if “the two countries would ever come to a resolution on the question of election interference.”
To no one’s surprise, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov eagerly “told reporters that Trump had accepted Putin’s denial of tampering in the US election.
Tillerson also told reporters that Trump and Putin “reached an agreement on curbing violence in Syria.” From CNN:
“This is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria,” Tillerson said.
He said they had a “lengthy discussion of other areas in Syria where we can work together.”
Before The Meeting
The two shook hands at their first encounter when they arrived at the summit. At the photo op before the meeting, Trump and Putin shook hands again and exchanged formalities. Neither one told reporters what they would speak about behind closed doors.
A meeting between the two men has been the most anticipated event of Trump’s presidency due to the controversy around possible Russian interference in our election last year.
Early this morning, Trump tweeted about the meeting, knowing the world would have its eyes on the two men:
Trump and Putin talked a bit before the photo op. From Politico:
“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well. We’ve had some very, very good talks. We are going to have a talk now and obviously that will continue,” Trump said as photographers snapped photos of the two presidents. “But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned, and It’s an honor to be with you.”
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) July 7, 2017
Even though the men did not tell reporters what they planned to discuss, Trump and other officials hinted at subjects before he left on his overseas trip. From Fox News:
But since assuming office Trump’s optimism has waned, and he’s criticized Russia for its unflinching support of Syrian leader Bashar Assad, even as he used chemical weapons. The U.S. also incurred Russian ire by agreeing to sell patriot missiles to Poland, and in a highly praised speech in Warsaw on Thursday, Trump specifically called out Russia for its subversive activities worldwide.
“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself,” Trump said.
We all know how the left and failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have blamed Russia for her crushing loss, but Trump may not bring up the subject. From CNN:
Trump, administration officials tell CNN, plans to focus primarily on disputes in Syria and Ukraine when he meets with Putin on Friday. While a formal plan for the meeting has yet to emerge, there is little expectation on the American side that Trump will bring up Russia’s 2016 election activities.
The President said Thursday that Russia could have been behind efforts to influence the election but suggested the finger can be pointed elsewhere as well and that “nobody really knows for sure.”
“I think it very well could be Russia but I think it could very well have been other countries,” Trump said during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Russia has denied any involvement.
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