Trump, Putin set for high stakes first meeting
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Trump and members of his national security team will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday at the G-20 summit in Germany, in what is sure to be a high stakes first meeting between the two leaders.
An administration official told ABC News that the only attendees for the meeting will be Trump, Putin, Secretary of State Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and two translators and it is expected to last just over 30 minutes.
The official also told ABC News that the president has a single briefing binder that he is using for the entire G20 summit and does not have one specific to his meeting with Putin. Trump is not pouring over materials and potential demands since he feels more comfortable speaking off the cuff, the official added, which some note could be a disadvantage since Putin is known to prepare extensively for such meetings.
The focus of the meeting will likely be Syria and Ukraine, though Russia’s aggressive cyber activity is also expected to be addressed in a broader sense — which may or may not include the 2016 presidential election.
The meeting comes as Trump chided Russia earlier today during a speech to the Polish people for “destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran.”
The official “doubted” any movement toward returning two Russian diplomatic compounds seized by former President Obama last December.
Despite the tough talk on the eve of his meeting with Putin, many are focused on what appeared to be yet another attempt by President Trump to downplay Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Taking questions alongside the Polish president before his speech in Moscow, Trump questioned whether or not Russia was solely responsible for meddling in the U.S. election, bringing up the possibility that other countries could have been involved.
“Well I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people and other countries,” Trump said. “Could have been a lot of people interfered.”
As Trump meets with Putin, questions about the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russians continue to dog the administration and Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation.
The president also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the leaders of Japan and South Korea.
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