Trump, Putin had previously undisclosed meeting during G-20 summit
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Trump, Putin had previously undisclosed meeting during G-20 summit

The White House says Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had an additional, previously undisclosed chat at this month’s G20 summit in Hamburg

world Updated: Jul 19, 2017 18:33 IST
Trump-Putin secret meeting,Donald Trump,Vladimir Putin
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg on July 7.(AP)

US President Donald Trump had a previously undisclosed meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg recently, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday.

This was the two leaders’ second meeting at the summit, but unlike the first, it was not disclosed till now by the White House, which confirmed it only after it was made public by Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.

The revelation about the meeting came days after Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr, released emails showing he held a meeting during the campaign with Kremlin-connected figures, hoping to get dirt on his father’s election rival Hillary Clinton.

The Trump-Putin meeting took place at a private dinner for G-20 leaders and lasted an hour during which the American president was not accompanied by any member of his team or a translator, while his Russian counterpart brought along his translator.

The White House said in a statement the two leaders spoke “briefly” but did not offer a readout of their conversation, which it often does, though not always.

“During the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely,” the White House said. “President Trump spoke with many leaders during the course of the evening. As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs (Melania) Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin.”

“It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders. Throughout the G-20 and in all his other foreign engagements, President Trump has demonstrated American leadership by representing our interests and values on the world stage,” it added.

President Trump followed up with his own version in series of tweets.

“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick’. All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!” he tweeted.

“The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”

Though the meeting was normal, as claimed by the White House, critics asked why was it not disclosed before. Trump and Putin had spoken earlier the same day for 135 minutes, for a meeting that had been slotted for 30 minutes.

Trump spoke to reporters at length later about that conversation — that he had asked Putin twice if he had interfered with the 2016 US elections. But he did not mention the second meeting, conversation.

“Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird,” Bremmer told The New York Times on the basis conversations he had with those at the dinner, “that here is the President of the United States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care.”

Though seemingly not apparent to Trump, a private one-on-one meeting with Putin was unlikely to go unnoticed back home, specially if it remained unacknowledged, fitting a pattern of undisclosed meetings between his family and aides with Russians.

Trump Jr’s meeting with a group of Russians continues to generate headlines because it was not disclosed at first and then followed up with muddled explanations.

Trump’s first National Security adviser Michael Flynn was fired for misleading the White House about his meetings with Russians and attorney general Jeff Sessions found himself in trouble for not disclosing his meetings with Russian officials.

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 08:41 IST