by Laurie Kotka
Amid the backdrop of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the first time since Trump’s election.
During a meeting that was initially scheduled for only 35 minutes but continued well past the two-hour mark, Trump and Putin discussed a number of issues central to ongoing U.S. – Russian diplomatic relations.
The leaders spoke through translators with their respective foreign ministers present before reporters entered the room to hear the leaders’ remarks. Trump characterized the discussion up to that point in positive terms, affirming the discussion was going “very well.”
Putin stated that he was glad to have the opportunity to meet Trump and speaking to Trump added, “We spoke over the phone with you several times. A phone conversation is never enough.” Putin went on to state, “If you want to have a positive outcome in bilaterals and be able to resolve most international policy issues, that will really need personal meetings.”
Both Putin and Trump acknowledged the importance of the meeting, pointing to a hope for improved relations between the two countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were also present at the meeting.
Tillerson remarked, “The two leaders connected very quickly. There was a very clear positive chemistry.”
Trump confronted the matter of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Both Tillerson and Lavrov later confirmed Putin denied the claim and that Trump accepted the denial. Lavrov stated, “U.S. President Trump said that he heard firm assertions from Russian President Putin that it is not true and that Russian authorities have not meddled in the elections.”
The discussion also addressed issues like cybersecurity and the threat North Korea poses to global stability.
Most notably, the meeting did yield a ceasefire agreement for southwestern Syria. While the deal will require future meetings to sort through the details, it stands out as the Trump administration’s most significant accomplishment to-date in bettering U.S.-Russian relations.