United States President Donald Trump is to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for the first time at a G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
The official bilateral meeting at the G20 summit will bring Trump face-to-face with the leader of the country who United States intelligence says meddled in the 2016 election in an effort to get Trump elected.
They have both said they want to repair ties damaged by the crises in Syria and Ukraine, as well as Russia’s alleged meddling in the US election.
The G20, or Group of Twenty, is a summit for 19 countries, both developed and developing, plus the EU. The individual countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.
Climate change and international trade seem to be the major issue to be handled at the summit.
U.S. President Trump will face a testy confrontation at the summit with leaders of the other big Group of 20 economies after deciding last month to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate deal.
However, as the World leaders began holding informal meetings, thousands of protesters from around Europe, who say the G20 summit has failed to solve many of the issues threatening world peace, poured into Hamburg to join the main demonstration.
The ongoing demonstration in Hamburg tagged “Welcome to Hell” rally has left 76 police officers injured.
By choosing to hold the summit in Hamburg, Germany’s northern hi-tech powerhouse, Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to show mass protests can be tolerated in an open democracy, correspondents say.
What can we expect from the Trump-Putin talks at the G20 Summit?
The two leaders are due to meet in the afternoon for an hour, Russian media say, though other reports suggest it could be about 30 minutes.
It is unclear if they will speak to reporters afterward or to what extent media will be admitted to the meeting. After phone calls between the leaders in January and May, the White House and Kremlin released summaries of the conversations.
What we do know is that the two men have staked out opposing views on major international issues in the run-up to the summit:
- On Thursday, Mr. Trump used a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw to call on Russia to stop “destabilizing” Ukraine and other countries, and “join the community of responsible nations”
- Setting out his own G20 agenda in German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Mr. Putin called for US-led sanctions, imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, to be lifted on his country
- Mr. Putin also argued strongly in favor of the Paris climate agreement, saying it was a “secure basis for long-term climate regulation” and Russia wanted to make a “comprehensive contribution to its implementation”. President Trump, of course, has taken America out of the agreement.
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While there was less mention of Syria, Washington supports some armed opposition groups, while Moscow is the main ally of President Bashar al-Assad, so the potential for a difference of opinion there too is high.
Former President Barack Obama’s relationship with Putin was contentious.
“The personal relationship is very bad,” Matthew Rojansky, a director at The Wilson Center told NPR in 2013. “There’s no sugarcoating that, even though both have tried.”
More so, not all presidents have viewed Putin with such skepticism, so a warm relationship with Trump would not be abnormal.
Former President George W. Bush said during a 2001 meeting with Putin that he was able to look him in the eye and “get a sense of his soul.”
“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy,” Bush said, standing next to Putin. “We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.” He later added, “I wouldn’t have invited him to my ranch if I didn’t trust him.”
The whole world is keen on knowing what the outcome of the meeting between the two controversial world leaders would be, but of course, the media won’t be allowed anywhere near, so the outcome may not be made known to the public.
More to come.