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Trump calls Putin meeting an 'honour,' cites 'very good talks' at G20 in Hamburg

Friday - 07/07/2017 22:05
1st time U.S and Russian leaders have met in person

U.S. President Donald Trump called it an "honour" to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday for the first time, during the G20 summit in Hamburg, and said he looked forward to positive things happening in the relationship between the former Cold War rivals.

"Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it's going very well," Trump told reporters, sitting alongside Putin, after meeting the Russian president Friday.

"We've had some very, very good talks," Trump said. "We're going to have a talk now and obviously that will continue. 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 honour to be with you."

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Putin, through a translator, said that while the two had spoken by phone, a phone conversation is never enough, calling their meeting an important bilateral meeting.

"I am delighted to meet you personally," Putin said.

The two shook hands earlier Friday ahead of a discussion with all G20 members present, and they were scheduled to meet separately for half an hour starting at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Trump tweeted earlier Friday morning that he was looking forward to his meeting with Putin, saying there is "much to discuss."

It's a pivotal time in U.S.-Russian relations. Trump has said he wants to find ways to work with Putin, a goal made more difficult by sharp differences over Russia's actions in Syria and Ukraine, and allegations Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Kremlin has said that Putin would raise the need for closer anti-terror co-operation at his meeting with Trump.

Merkel calls for compromise

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers Friday that millions of people hope they can help solve the world's problems, and warned that they must be prepared to make compromises.

Inside the security cordon, Merkel's prospects of finding common ground issues such as climate change and multilateral trade looked uncertain at Trump's first G20 summit. Trump's "America First" rhetoric and decision to withdraw from the Paris accord against climate change have caused widespread concern in Europe and beyond.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes part in a 'family photo' along with South African President Jacob Zuma, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and other leaders at the G20 leaders summit. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

"There are of course millions of people following us with their concerns, their fears and their needs, who hope that we can make a contribution to solving the problems," Merkel told fellow leaders at the start of a working lunch during which they were to discuss global growth and trade.

Merkel noted that the countries at the summit represent two-thirds of the world population, four-fifths of the globe's gross domestic product and three-quarters of world trade.

APTOPIX Germany G20 Protests
A woman is pepper sprayed by police after she climbed an armoured police vehicle on the first day of the G20. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

"We all know the big global challenges and we know that time is pressing," Merkel said. "So solutions can only be found if we are prepared to compromise … without, and I say this clearly, bending ourselves too much out of shape. We can of course also name differences."

Trump meets 'friend' Pena Nieto

Trump hailed Mexico's president Enrique Pena Nieto as his "friend" in their first face-to-face meeting since he was sworn in. 

Pena Nieto was scheduled to be among Trump's first international White House guests but abruptly cancelled the visit after a public spat over Trump's proposed border wall.

Trump maintains that he will build the border wall to keep drugs and criminals out of the U.S. — although those plans still remain unclear. He said Friday that he "absolutely" wants Mexico to pay for the wall.

Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay for the wall.

Trump said, "It's great to be with my friend the president of Mexico."

Pena Nieto said he hopes to continue a "flowing dialogue."

Protesters block Melania Trump

As the leaders discussed terrorism, trade and climate change, protests against the gathering continued in various parts of Hamburg. Anti-globalization activists set dozens of cars ablaze and protesters tried unsuccessfully to block leaders' delegations from getting to the downtown convention centre where the summit is being held.

Police forces around Germany dispatched reinforcements to help 15,000 police already deployed to the northern port city for the summit. At least 15 people were arrested and dozens more held for questioning.

Hamburg police say they used a water cannon Friday morning to clear a blockade by protesters ahead of the summit's opening. Police said the incident happened on the banks of the Outer Alster lake, some distance from the trade fair grounds where the summit is being held. They said they had repeatedly told a group of protesters to clear the road.

Police forces around Germany dispatched reinforcements to help 15,000 police already deployed to the northern port city for the summit as the violence escalated. At least 15 people were arrested and dozens more held for questioning. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Police said 160 officers were hurt, one of whom had to be taken to a hospital with an eye injury after a firework exploded in front of him. Twenty-nine people were arrested and another 15 temporarily detained. Windows at the Mongolian consulate were also broken.

Protesters are also keeping Trump's wife, Melania Trump, from joining the spouses of world leaders. 

Her spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, says Hamburg police haven't cleared Melania Trump to leave the government guest house where she and Trump spent the night because of the protesters.

Spouses typically get together while leaders are in meetings during international summits like these. Friday's program for the spouses included a boat ride, lunch and a tour of a climate control centre.

Melania Trump tweeted that she was thinking of those who were hurt during protests that began Thursday.

She says she hopes everyone stays safe.

German police remove protesters who blocked a street at a demonstration ahead of the summit. (Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters)

The G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Saudi Arabia's King Salman isn't attending, and his country is represented by Ibrahim al-Assaf, the minister of state.

Also attending the summit are the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Guinea, Senegal, Singapore and Vietnam.

Leaders of China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa have met on the sidelines of the summit in Germany, calling for a more open global economy.


With files from the Associated Press
© Thomson Reuters, 2017 


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