Join Now

Trump and Putin to talk face to face for first time in ‘fully fledged’ meeting

Wednesday - 05/07/2017 16:23
FORGET the staged handshake and forced smile for the cameras.
Political strongmen Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will face off in Germany this week.
Political strongmen Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will face off in Germany this week.

US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to have a “fully fledged” face-to-face at the G20 summit on Friday. One site has gone so far as to call it “the meeting that could shape the world”.

Expect to see some serious chest-beating — because each leader will be keen to show strength, while trying to patch up a relationship that has deteriorated considerably.

Face-off … Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are set to meet face to face for the first time on Friday. Picture: AFP/Don Emmert and Natalia Kolesnikova
Face-off … Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are set to meet face to face for the first time on Friday. Picture: AFP/Don Emmert and Natalia KolesnikovaSource:AFP

It was initially thought that the two presidents would have a casual chat at the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, but a Kremlin spokesman says the encounter will take the form of an official bilateral meeting.

“It is planned as a fully fledged, seated meeting,” Mr Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told Russian news agency TASS.

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said it would be “a rather detailed, in-depth discussion”.

The sit-down will be the first official meeting between Mr Putin and a US president since Barack Obama’s tense talk with the Russian president two years ago.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with then US president Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN conference on climate change. Picture: AFP/Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with then US president Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN conference on climate change. Picture: AFP/Sputnik/Mikhail KlimentyevSource:AFP

The meeting should be a show worth watching, because each leader has a lot of pride at stake and each presents himself that their nation’s toughest advocate.

“(I expect) an Olympian level of macho posturing between these two leaders, who both understand the importance of symbolism and the perception of being tough,” Derek Chollet, a former senior national security official in the Obama administration, told CNN.

While neither the White House nor the Kremlin has detailed what subjects are on the agenda, these are the hot-button issues that Donald Trump claims have brought relations between Russia and the US to an “all-time low”.

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN THE US ELECTION

Twin inquiries in Washington have uncovered undeniable evidence that Russia deliberately interfered in last year’s presidential election to sway it in Mr Trump’s favour.

What is yet to have been proven is whether Russia’s efforts made a difference to the outcome. Mr Trump’s spokespeople say continually that Russian interference did not change even one vote.

The US President dismissed the issue for months, saying that the story was perpetuated because the Democrats were looking for a way to justify Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss.

Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP/Odd Andersen/Jim Watson
Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP/Odd Andersen/Jim WatsonSource:AFP

However, he changed his tune last month after The Washington Post reported that Mr Putin was directly involved in “a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the US presidential race”.

After the report, Mr Trump acknowledged for the first time that Russia had indeed meddled in the election and he blamed Mr Obama for not stopping it.


Russian interference in the poll — and the FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign helped — has been the biggest thorn in Mr Trump’s side during his fledgling presidency.

The face-to-face meeting would give him a chance to chastise Mr Putin for meddling in US democracy, but the White House is yet to say whether Mr Trump will raise the subject.

SYRIA

One of the main arenas where the US and Russia have clashed in recent years is Syria, where each country has competing aims.
Russia has provided military and diplomatic support for the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, which is determined to shut down a rebel uprising as part of a civil war that has claimed more than 400,000 lives. At the same time, Mr Assad is leading a fight against Islamic State militants, with air cover support from Russia.

The US, meanwhile, is leading a separate military coalition that is attempting to destroy IS in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Odd Andersen/Jim Watson
Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Odd Andersen/Jim WatsonSource:AFP

Tensions with the US boiled over last month when Russia declared that it would now consider American planes in Syria as “aerial targets” and cease communications via a military hotline.

The escalation came after the US shot down a Syrian warplane that had dropped bombs near ground forces supported by the US.

With Russia unlikely to stop providing political and military cover to Syria — which has used chemical weapons against its own people — this remains an issue where Mr Trump and Mr Putin are very much at odds.

SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA

The US has imposed economic sanctions on Russia for taking over Crimea, a region of Ukraine, which neighbours Russia. In addition, the US Senate has proposed further sanctions on Russia as punishment for its interference in the election.

Mr Putin is likely to complain in the meeting about the US seizing Russia’s diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland.

Mr Obama made the call to close the two properties in the dying days of his presidency — kicking out 35 Russian diplomats in the process — in retaliation of Russian meddling in the poll.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the nation’s patience was “running out” on the issue and threatened that Moscow may impose a tit-for-tat sanction on the US.

CURBING NORTH KOREA

The US confirmed on Tuesday what North Korea had long threatened: that the rogue state now had a intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching US soil.

It is a worrying development and, interestingly, it is Russia that has called for calm.

“The most important thing now is not to go overboard with a response,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday in comments implicitly directed at Mr Trump.

North Korea launches a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile in the country’s northwest. Picture: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
North Korea launches a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile in the country’s northwest. Picture: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via APSource:AP

“Those who take a responsible approach towards the task of ensuring peace should understand that using this incident as a pretext for triggering another spiral of countermeasures, which will inevitably lead to reciprocal steps, is a tried and tested dead-end track.”

Mr Trump has previously leaned on Chinese President Xi Jinping to use his influence as the leader of North Korea’s main ally to pressure it to abandon its aggressive weapons program — to no avail.


REPAIRING THE RELATIONSHIP

Donald Trump talked a big game during the election campaign about improving the US’s relationship with Russia, saying that he thought Mr Putin was “very smart”.

He argued that it was in the US’s best interest for him to have a good relationship with the Russian president, despite the fact that many in Washington consider him to be an enemy of America.

However, in April, after Mr Putin met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, Mr Trump said: “We’re not getting along with Russia at all.

“We may be at an all-time low,” he added.

Mr Trump prides himself on having good relationships with foreign leaders, forged during face-to-face meetings. This week’s encounter will no doubt represent his best chance to turn the sour relationship with Russia around.

Source: News Corp Australia Network:

Total notes of this article: 0 in 0 rating

Click on stars to rate this article

  Reader Comments

Newer articles

Older articles

Top
You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second