Donald Trump’s first meeting with Putin ‘robust’

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Putin

MNA International Desk: US president Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a “very robust exchange” over claims Moscow meddled in America’s elections, during their first face-to-face talks Friday at a fractious G20 summit marred by violent street protests.

From the outset of the blockbuster encounter, the US property tycoon fired the key question that has weighed on his presidency, pressing the ex-KGB agent “on more than one occasion” on the vote interference claims, said secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who was in the meeting.

But Tillerson’s counterpart Sergei Lavrov quickly added that Trump “accepted” Putin denial of Moscow’s role in propelling him to the White House, after hearing the Russian out.

Over the course of two hours and 15 minutes of talks that covered not only the damaging claims but also a slew of global crises including the Syrian war, the two leaders clearly engaged, said Tillerson.

“Let me characterise: the meeting was very constructive, the two leaders I would say, connected very quickly,” said Tillerson, adding “there was a very clear positive chemistry between the two”.

“There are so many issues on the table… Just about everything got touched upon… Neither one of them wanted to stop,” he said.

“I believe they even sent in the (US) First Lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, but that didn’t work either… We did another hour. Clearly she failed!”