US election hack debated by Trump and Putin at first meeting in G20 summit
During the first meeting of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin the alleged Russian hacking of last year’s US presidential election was discussed.
The exchange was described as “robust” by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
On the other hand the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Mr Putin’s assertion that his country was not responsible was accepted by Mr Trump.
However according to Mr Tillerson it was not clear whether the two countries would ever come to an agreement on what happened. He added that “I think the president is rightly focused on how do we move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point,”
The two presidents have held their first face to face meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg, The summit is being held amid sometimes violent protests.
Other then the alleged meddling in US elections, topics such as the war in Syria, terrorism and cybersecurity were also discussed during the meeting which had lasted nearly two and a quarter hours, longer than originally planned.
Mr Tillerson who was part of the US delegation told reporters afterwards “The president opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election,”
“They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has done in the past.”
According to Mr Tillerson the two leaders had “connected very quickly, 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. I believe they even sent in the First Lady [Melania Trump] 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!”
According to Mr Lavrov “President Trump said he heard clear statements… that Russian authorities did not intervene [in the US election], and he accepted these declarations.”
As Mr Tillerson was leaving the news conference, he was asked the same thing if it was accurate, however he declined to answer.
As the talks in front of the media began, before going into private session, Mr Trump told Mr Putin: “It’s an honour to be with you.”
Mr Putin replied: “I’m delighted to meet you personally.”
Mr Trump added: “Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well.
“We’ve had some very, very good talks. 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.”
Mr Putin, via a translator, said that while they had previously spoken by phone, that would never be as good as meeting face to face.
The two men had staked out opposing views on major international issues in the run-up to the summit:
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