Melania Trump sits next to Vladimir Putin at G20 banquet

Vladimir Putin in January

Donald Trump has finally met Vladimir Putin face to face - with mixed results.

For years, the USA and Russian Federation have been backing opposing sides in Syria's war, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad. He would make clear the reaffirmation of Washington's commitment to Nato's Article 5 and enhanced deterrence, and stress to Mr Putin he will not tolerate Moscow's interference or undermining of democratic systems or efforts to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Europe.

Later Friday, however, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Trump opened his meeting with Putin by "raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election".

President Trump had been due to talk to the Russian leader for 30 minutes, but spent two-hours-and-16 minutes discussing a ceasefire in southwest Syria, Ukraine, the fight against terrorism and cyber-security before the meeting ended.

Putin and Trump did not appear to resolve the Kremlin's demand that the United States hand back two compounds that the Obama administration seized in late December in retaliation for Russia's actions in the US campaign.

The spouses of the other G20 leaders toured a climate change center in Hamburg and took a river cruise - sans their American counterpart - while the world leaders attended the summit.

By mid-afternoon German Chancellor Angela Merkel was clearly concerned about the lack of progress on reaching the wording on the issue for the summit's final communique.

In unusually frank language for this stage in a summit, she said discussions were proving very hard.

"Arrangements have been made to create a channel between presidents of Russian Federation and USA to use this opportunity that Washington has, to further advance the settlement based on the Minsk agreements and considering the potential established in the contact group and the Normandy format", Lavrov told reporters during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

His administration is embroiled in investigations into whether his team colluded with the Russians to help him beat Hillary Clinton.

"President Trump had an obligation to bring up Russia's interference in our election with Putin, but he has an equal obligation to take the word of our intelligence community rather than that of the Russian president", Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

Some speculated that Trump was acknowledging Putin's alpha status
Some speculated that Trump was acknowledging Putin's alpha status

Trump's decision to raise the issue directly with Putin fulfilled ardent demands by US lawmakers of both parties that the president not shy away from the issue in his highly anticipated meeting with Putin.

"President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past".

Mr Tillerson said Russian Federation, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, had an interest in seeing stability there.

Tillerson said the leaders agreed to work together on staying out of each other's elections processes.

"The two leaders connected very quickly", Tillerson said.

At first, media thought Trump would not bring up accusations that Russian Federation interfered with our presidential election in 2016.

The blockbuster bilateral meeting comes on the sidelines of what is expected to be the most fraught G20 summit in years in the German city of Hamburg. The motorcades, the family photos, the glitzy nights out and even the protests outside the summit - with more than 160 police officers injured.

But in reality it has been very different.

The concept of everyone winning by working together is alien to his transactional view of the world.

As things stand, Mr Trump will find himself locking horns with all G20 members on other big-ticket issues too like like free trade.



Other news