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[USA TODAY]: Trump on Vladimir Putin: 'We’ve had some very, very good talks'





HAMBURG, Germany — Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin sat down for a highly anticipated face-to-face meeting Friday, providing the world with its first visual clues about how the personalities of two powerful presidents would shape the relationship between the United States and Russia.

In a meeting room at the G-20 summit of world leaders, the two men appeared comfortable and relaxed, leaning forward in low-backed armchairs. They moved in closer to have a private word, and then farther apart to size each other up. 

"We look forward to a lot of very positive happening for Russia and for the United States and for everyone concerned," Trump said at the beginning of the meeting.

Their pre-meeting small talk belied the complicated web of issues facing their relationship: Conflicting objectives in Ukraine, Syria and Iran, and common concerns about terrorism in the Middle East and nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.



And, of course, there's the elephant in the room that neither leader seems eager to talk about: Allegations that Putin personally ordered a campaign of hacking and propaganda during the 2016 presidential election in an effort to get Trump elected President. 


Putin said the two had spoken over the phone several times, "but phone conversations are never enough definitely." To address important international issues, "that will really need personal meetings," he said.

Earlier Friday, Trump tweeted: "I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss."

And he also brought up the election controversy, suggesting that world leaders were taking his side.

"Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!" he said, an apparent reference to the phishing scam that led to an email leak from the Democratic National Committee.

However, Podesta, whose emails were hacked when he was Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, did not work for the DNC. Podesta's emails were stolen and published on the Wikileaks web site, providing daily headlines that Clinton blames in part for her loss to Trump.

Putin has denied meddling in the election, and Trump said Thursday that "nobody really knows" the extent of Russia's involvement.

Before sitting down for a separate meeting, Trump and Putin attended group meetings of the summit where they sat three seats away from each other. 

The meeting — known as an "expanded bilateral" in the parlance of international summits — will be intimate. Other than translators, the only other people in the room will be their top diplomats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Trump-Putin encounter is perhaps the most closely watched event of the summit, which has drawn thousands of protesters.

Anti-globalization activists in Germany's second largest city set dozens of cars ablaze and tried to block leaders’ delegations, including first lady Melania Trump, from entering the grounds of the summit. Overnight, dozens of police were injured.




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