Putin says France asked him not to hold meeting with Trump during remembrance weekend

‘At their request, we will not organise any meetings here,’ Russian president says

Tom Embury-Dennis
Monday 12 November 2018 12:05
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World leaders, including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, join for Armistice centenary in Arc de Triomphe ceremony

Vladimir Putin has said French authorities asked that he and Donald Trump not arrange any meetings during the First World War commemorations in Paris.

“At their request, we will not organise any meetings here,” Mr Putin reportedly told state broadcaster RT on Sunday, adding that Russia did not want to “violate” the weekend’s scheduled events.

Mr Trump and Mr Putin were also kept apart at a working lunch in the Élysée Palace by French officials, who reportedly switched their seats at the last minute.

Despite the apparent attempts to keep the Russian and US presidents apart – over fears any official talks would overshadow the occasion – Mr Putin said they managed a “good” talk at the lunch.

The pair made headlines on Saturday when Mr Trump was captured on camera beaming at Mr Putin’s approach, before the Russian leader gave his US counterpart a thumbs up after shaking hands.

Donald Trump beams at the approach of Vladimir Putin in Paris (AFP/Getty)

As has become routine on his foreign visits, Mr Trump’s Paris trip quickly descended into a series of blunders and unforced errors which cast a shadow over the entire weekend.

Shortly after touching down in the French capital, the US president attacked Emmanuel Macron on Twitter over his calls for a European army, and triggered outrage back home after threatening to withdraw federal funds from California over its handling of record-breaking forest fires.

Mr Trump also sparked condemnation for cancelling a visit to a First World War cemetery due to “poor weather”, drawing unfavourable comparisons to a number of political leaders who tackled the weather.

Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesperson, said the Russian president and Mr Trump had agreed to hold a meeting at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

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“Both they [the US] and we are determined to restore the dialogue,” Mr Putin told RT, in reference to Washington’s decision to withdraw from a crucial Cold War-era nuclear missile treaty.

“But it’s even more important not to conduct the dialogue at the high or top level, but at the expert level. I hope that this full-scale negotiation process will be restored.”

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