U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the first time on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany in what was called a “constructive” exchange. The highly anticipated meeting comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two world powers, but both sides say they are committed in mending ties.
Natalie Carney reports.
Follow Natalie Carney on Twitter @NatalieCarney77
A brief encounter at lunch prior to their much-anticipated one-on-one meeting had media scrambling to interpret any underlying sentiments.
Both men have been at polar ends of many foreign policy decisions, leading to growing tensions.
Yet, they presented an amicable front to the cameras, expressing their delight in the much-anticipated meeting, the first between the two leaders.
“I’m delighted to be able to meet you, Mr. President and I hope, as you have said, our meeting will yield positive results,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“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,” said U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the meeting “constructive” with lingering disagreements addressed, including concerns over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Both parties also confirmed their support for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and support for the de-escalation of tensions in Syria.
U.S. and Russian officials agreed to endorse a ceasefire in the war- torn country, a substantial development between the two leaders who have been supporting opposing sides in the six year- long conflict.
“A ceasefire has been entered into. And I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria,” said Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State. “And as a result of that, we had a very lengthy discussion on the areas in Syria we can continue to work together on to deescalate the areas and the violence once we defeat ISIS.”
According to one analyst, this was a win-win for both sides.
“I think Putin comes away from it having very clearly demonstrated that he broke the U.S. imposed isolation policy,” said Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “I would call that a big political win for Putin. For Trump, you know, I don’t think he broke out of the constraints he’s on with respect to Russia policy here in Washington. On balance, I think both leaders come away with some benefit from this meeting.”
Only a day before the meeting, Trump ruffled some feathers by calling on Russia to stop its “destabilizing activities” and end its support for Syria and Iran.
Meanwhile, Putin slammed U.S. sanctions and trade protectionism.
The meeting between the two world leaders was initially intended to last 30 minutes, but it went on for more than two hours. Not missed by many here, was that the bilateral meeting that took place at the same time as the group’s discussion on climate change, was expected to be controversial due to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. The G20 continues on Saturday with bilateral meetings expected between President Trump and the Chinese President Xi Jinping.