Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet at G20 summit

Donald Trump tells Vladimir Putin 'It's an honour to be with you' before first bilateral talks at G20

It was the diplomatic meeting that the world was watching 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
@AndrewBuncombe
Friday 07 July 2017 15:14
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After what has felt like weeks - and even months - of anticipation, Donald Trump has finally sat down with Vladimir Putin and said it was an "honour" to meet him.

A day after Mr Trump reaffirmed - albeit reluctantly - that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, the US President shook hands and smiled with the man who must have ordered Russian actions.

Many in America are watching for Mr Trump to press Mr Putin on the issue, something that resulted in Barack Obama imposing new sanctions and ousting around 35 Russian diplomats from the US.

Trump and Putin share handshake as G20 leaders mingle

It may be that he does raise the issue in his private meeting with Mr Putin, attended only by their translators, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. However, with the camera shutters flashing, Mr Trump sought to sound simply positive.

“We look to a lot of positive things happening for Russia and the US and for everyone concerned,” he said.

In turn, Mr Putin said he was delighted to be meeting Mr Trump personally - apparently debunking Mr Trump’s election campaign claim that he had met the Russian leader - and said he hoped the meeting would bring positive results.

“Phone conversations are never enough,” he said.

The two leaders had gone into the meeting -which ended up lasting more than two hours - amid intense expectations. Yet, the White House had sought to ease such views. The two men were expected to talk about Syria and Ukraine, rather than on Moscow's alleged cyber-meddling in the election.

Reports suggest that Mr Putin and the Russian side have even lower anticipations. Mr Putin will want to stress Russian interests, especially in the Middle East and places such as Crimea.

Mr Putin, an experienced and skilled politician, has the benefit of having spoken to other US presidents and senior officials in his career. In contrast, this was Mr Trump's first.

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