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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, July 21, 2017

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Trump is honored and Putin couldn’t be more delighted as both leaders vow concrete results in first face-to-face meeting

Trump stretching out his hand to Putin and then patting his elbow

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HAMBURG, Germany - With the world watching, the U.S. President Donald Trump sat down for his first ever face-to-face meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid several controversies raging back home and more in the making. 

The two leaders shared a somewhat awkward handshake initially at the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, which involved Trump stretching out his hand to Putin and then patting his elbow, a moment captured in a video and posted on Facebook by the German cabinet.

Followed by which Trump, along with his key aide, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat down with Putin, who was accompanied by the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, for the meeting, which is taking place against an inauspicious backdrop.

The meeting came a day after the U.S. President accused Russia of acting as a destabilizing force in Ukraine and elsewhere and urged the Russian leadership to end its “support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran.”

At the same time, Trump also doubted the report by U.S. intelligence agencies that concluded earlier this year that Russia interfered in the U.S. Presidential elections, claiming “nobody knows if Russia interfered in U.S. election.”

At the highly anticipated sit-down meeting on Friday, journalists were briefly allowed to witness part of the meeting, in which the U.S. president said, “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're going to have a talk now, and obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned. It’s an honour to be with you.”

To which, the Russian president replied, “I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally Mr President. And I hope as you have said, our meeting will yield concrete results.”

Trump said he and Putin were holding “very, very good talks.”

Both Trump and Putin kept the subjects discussed at the meeting vague as Trump described them only as “various things” and Putin told reporters through a translator that they were discussing international problems and bilateral issues.
Putin however, described the fact that they were meeting at all as a positive sign in itself and said, “Phone conversation is never enough.”
As reporters were escorted out of the room, the leaders shook hands firmly and Trump refrained from responding to shouted questions about whether they would discuss Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election, which in the weeks ahead of this meeting has been a topic politicians in Washington have been demanding that Trump raise directly.

On Thursday, top Senate Democrats urged Trump to press Putin about the 2016 election, saying, “not raising this matter with President Putin would be a severe dereliction of the duty of the office to which you were elected."

What they discussed

The meeting between the two leaders was later revealed to have lasted over two hours and Tillerson told reporters after the session that Trump and Putin discussed interference in the U.S. elections.

Trump and Putin focused on ways to move past Russia's alleged interference in the U.S. election.

The secretary of state said, Trump opened the session by "raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

He added, “They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The President pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past."

Tillerson said both leaders want to move on.

"I think what the two presidents, I think rightly, focused on is how do we move forward. How do we move forward from here?"

Tillerson added that the talks focused on how the two countries "secure a commitment that the Russian government has no intention" of interfering in future elections.

He said, "How do we have a framework where we have capability to judge what is happening in the cyberworld."

He said the session ended with an agreement on curbing violence in Syria.

Tillerson said the ceasefire was a "defined agreement" and could be a precursor to further cooperation in Syria.

He said, “This is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria” adding, The leaders had a "lengthy discussion of other areas in Syria where we can work together."

Meanwhile, the Russian state-run Sputnik media said the leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine and Syria, the fight against terrorism and cybersecurity.

Putin reportedly said after the session ended, “I had a very lengthy conversation with the President of the United States, there were a lot of issues such as Ukraine, Syria, other problems, some bilateral issues.”

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