G20: Trump and Putin hold first face-to-face talks

Plenty to talk about, by the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford

The words were warm enough, but the body language was restrained as this meeting began. Neither man was smiling much as both said they hoped for positive results from their encounter. Their handshake, when it finally came, was brief and businesslike.

But they clearly had plenty to talk about, as their meeting went on well over the time allocated. Russia sees that alone as a success, proof that Vladimir Putin is a global leader to be reckoned with. No-one here is expecting any big deals though, like lifting sanctions for example.

The Kremlin has stressed all along that its main aim is to establish a “working dialogue” with Donald Trump, and perhaps begin the slow process of restoring relations with the US, which are at their lowest point in many years.

The two men staked out opposing views on major international issues in the run-up to the summit:

  • On Thursday, Mr Trump used a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw to call on Russia to stop “destabilising” Ukraineand other countries, and “join the community of responsible nations”
  • Setting out his own G20 agenda in German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Mr Putin called for US-led sanctions on his country, imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, to be lifted
  • Mr Putin also argued strongly in favour of the Paris climate agreement, saying it was a “secure basis for long-term climate regulation” and Russia wanted to make a “comprehensive contribution to its implementation”
  • President Trump has taken the US out of the Paris agreement

The G20 (Group of Twenty) is a summit for 19 countries, both developed and developing, plus the EU.

In her summit opening statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “We are all aware of the great global challenges.

“We know that time is short and therefore solutions very often can only be found if we are ready to compromise and work together without bending over backwards too much because, of course, we can express different views on some issues.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged G20 leaders to impress upon Mr Trump that he should act as a role model in addressing climate change.

“We’ll tell him it’s important to take a lead role in tackling climate change and creating good jobs,” he told German tabloid Bild, according to Reuters news agency.

Mrs Merkel has said the G20 will focus on the Paris climate deal but, as the G20 host, she will work to find compromises.

Mrs Merkel and other EU leaders have also expressed their commitment to an open international trading system, while the Trump administration pursues protectionism under the “America First” motto.

On Friday, the US first lady had been due to take part in an excursion with other leaders’ spouses, but her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said: “The Hamburg police could not give us clearance to leave.”

Mrs Trump herself tweeted concern for those injured in the protests.


Source: BBC World News