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President Trump’s first official meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin opened with a warm handshake, a back pat and no mention that the U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“President Putin and I have have been discussing various things and I think it’s going very well. We’ve had some very, very good talks,” Trump told reporters before the meeting. “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. And it’s an honor to be with you.”
The two men are meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Putin mentioned the fact that the two have talked already a few times over the phone.
“But phone conversation is never enough,” he said through a translator. “If we want to have positive results in bilaterals and be able to resolve most acute international topics and issues, definitely we need personal meetings.
“And I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally Mr. President and I hope as you have said our meeting will yield positive results for Russia and the U.S.”
The conflict in Syria and the increasing threat posed by North Korea are expected to come up in the meeting. It’s unclear whether President Trump plans to talk to Putin about Russia’s role in interfering in the 2016 election.
The warm meeting also comes just a day after Trump spoke in Poland, a country known for its distaste for Russia, and reiterated America’s commitment to Article 5 of the NATO charter.
“The United States has demonstrated not merely with words, but with its actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment,” he said.
The statement would not have been newsworthy if not for Trump’s decision in May to omit a line in a speech that reaffirmed the U.S. commitment. That decision raised eyebrows especially in Eastern Europe, as Putin has shown in Ukraine and Crimea, that he’s intent on projecting Russia’s power and influence in Europe beyond his country’s borders.