Tuesday 4 July 2017
The White House and Kremlin confirm there will be a ‘fully-fledged’ sit-down at the summit in Hamburg, amid tense relations between the two countries
The meeting will be the first official bilateral meeting between the US and Russian presidents since Obama met with Putin in 2015. Photograph: Reuters
Amanda Holpuch in New York | Tuesday 4 July 2017 17.37 BST
US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin will have an official meeting on Friday afternoon in Hamburg at the G20 summit.
The White House and the Kremlin confirmed on Tuesday that the presidents would meet officially instead of in an informal “pull-aside” meeting at the conference.
Relations between the two countries are tense as the US maintains sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea, investigates Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and seeks to avoid a clash with Russia forces in Syria, where both countries are fighting the Islamic State.
The White House said on Tuesday that “it will be a normal bilateral meeting”.
“It is planned as a fully-fledged, ‘seated’ meeting,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to the state-run Tass news agency.
It is the first official bilateral meeting between the US and Russian presidents since September 2015, when Obama and Putin met for 90 minutes at the United Nations.
Two days after the meeting, Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria. Russia said the strikes targeted Isis, though multiple reports from the ground indicated that the strikes mainly hit less extreme groups fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
That move ruptured any appearance of cooperation between the US and Russiathat arose from the bilateral meeting.
At last year’s G20 conference, Obama and Putin met informally in a “pull-aside” meeting, a signal that relations between the two countries needed to improve before an official meeting could be organized.
Trump, however, repeatedly called for improved relations between the US and Russia on the campaign trail and has spoken highly of Putin for several years. In 2015, he told reporters “Putin is a nicer person than I am” and in February, Trump said he “would love to be able to get along with Russia”.
Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster, told reporters last week that the meeting in Hamburg would be unstructured. “There’s no specific agenda. It’s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about,” McMaster said. – The Guardian