Trump, Putin to meet at G20 summit in Germany

Posted June 30, 2017

Moscow believes that a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his USA counterpart Donald Trump will take place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday, TASS reported. Security experts within the Trump administration previously pushed back against Trump's desire for a formal state meeting exclusively between Trump and the Russian leader.

There has been speculation that the two would meet at the event, but it wasn't solidified until McMaster's confirmation Thursday.

Contacts between Russia and the United States are under intense scrutiny following allegations by USA intelligence officials of Russian interference in last year's US presidential election.Russian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say they are frustrated that the Trump administration has not been able to engage effectively with Russia on important issues.

Some Trump advisers recommend Trump and Putin meet during an informal "pull-aside" on the summit's sidelines or the United States and Russian delegations hold "strategic stability talks", which usually don't include the presidents, the wire service reported.

The administration officials said that no decision has yet been made to return the compounds or ease sanctions, and that any such steps were unlikely to accompany Trump's meeting with Putin in Hamburg.

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The two nations are also at odds over the civil war in Syria where Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad. He said he got to know Putin "very well" when they both appeared - in separate segments - on an episode of "60 Minutes" and that they had communicated "directly and indirectly".

Since Trump's inauguration, he and Putin have shared three phone calls.

McMaster said Trump would emphasize "whatever the president wants to talk about". Mainstream media outlets have blasted Trump for "colluding" with Russian Federation during the 2016 election campaign. Russian Federation denies the allegations and Trump says his team did not collude with Moscow. Such concessions could include returning two diplomatic compounds in the USA to Russian Federation or lessening sanctions. US officials, however, were uneasy about the idea.

A proposed new package of sanctions on Russian Federation in the U.S. Congress might complicate Trump's desire for warmer relations with Moscow.

That is an important distinction, since a formal bilateral meeting would elevate the talks and signal improving ties between Moscow and Washington, while a pull-aside would indicate a lower status to the relationship.