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G20: U.S. isolated on climate at summit of world leaders – LIVE VIDEO + UPDATE

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to size each other up in person for the first time on Friday in what promises to be the most highly anticipated meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit. In the meantime, pressure is on for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

UPDATE: China’s navy will join will join next year’s Pacific Rim military exercises, state news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping as saying on Saturday following his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump

UPDATE: Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Saturday for more international peace-making and crisis-management efforts on the Korean peninsula during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, state news agency Xinhua said.

Xi and Trump, meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg, also agreed to keep in close touch on the North Korean nuclear issue, the report added.

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump shared the G20 spotlight on Saturday with his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, as she helped launch a loan programme for women and caused a stir by briefly occupying her dad’s seat at the table with world leaders.

Ivanka, who ran an eponymous clothing and jewellery business before taking a formal job at the White House, has made women’s issues one of her signature policy areas, and the G20 revealed the power she wields as a trusted confidante to the president.

As leaders met behind closed doors, Ivanka briefly sat in her father’s chair during a session on African development, as the World Bank president spoke.

Her appearance triggered a flurry of tweets and caught the attention of mass-circulation daily Bild, which carried a photograph of her on its website with the headline: “Trump’s replacement: Ivanka Trump suddenly appears at negotiating table.”

G20 summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has worked with Ivanka on related issues, dismissed the kerfuffle at a news conference after the G20 summit ended.

UPDATE: Small groups of hooded anti-capitalist Black Bloc militants scuffled with German police on Saturday at an otherwise peaceful march against a G20 summit of global leaders in Hamburg, after two days of violent clashes which marred the G20 summit.

UPDATE: Leaders from several members of the Group of 20 economic powers expressed a “strong desire” to forge “ambitious new bilateral trading relationships” with Britain after it leaves the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Saturday.

Speaking at the end of a G20 summit in Hamburg, May said: “Some of the countries I’ve been talking to here have shown great interest in working with us on trade arrangements in the future – the United States, Japan, China, India.”

Turning to the Paris accord aimed at combating climate change, she added: “Like other world leaders here, I am dismayed at the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris agreement and I’ve urged President Trump to rejoin the Paris agreement.”

UPDATE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday there was no glossing over the fact that there had been “very, very slow” progress in implementing the Minsk peace accords aimed at ending years of violence in eastern Ukraine.

Merkel said she would hold four-way telephone talks on next steps soon with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and France following a more procedural conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Hamburg.

“We agreed to continue the process. But we also observed that progress had been very, very slow – with stagnation in some cases, relapses in others. We didn’t gloss over the situation,” she said. “We will stay in touch, we’ll stick with the format. We don’t have any other basis.”

UPDATE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting the two-day G20 summit, said she was pleased all club members besides the United States had agreed the Paris climate accord was irreversible.

“I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated,” Merkel told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting.

She said she did not share the view of British Prime Minister Theresa May who said on Friday she thought Washington could decide to return to the climate agreement.

In the final communique, the G20 leaders took note of the United States’ decision to withdraw from the landmark accord.

“The leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible,” the statement read.

On trade, another sticking point, the leaders agreed they would “fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices and recognise the role of legitimate trade defence instruments in this regard.”

UPDATE: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Russia will not interfere in parliamentary elections in Germany that are due to be held in September, adding that Moscow and Berlin have “good relations”.

Putin also told reporters after the G20 summit in Hamburg that the Russian Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline project is in the interests of Germany and the whole of Europe.

UPDATE: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that a new ceasefire deal in southern Syria was the result of the United States altering its stance and becoming more pragmatic about the situation there.

UPDATE: Emmanuel Macron says he still believes that he can convince Trump to accept the Paris Climate Accord.

UPDATE: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he had established a working relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump and thought there were grounds to believe at least partial cooperation with Washington could be achieved.

UPDATE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she was pleased that all Group of 20 members besides the United States had agreed in a communique that the Paris climate accord was irreversible.

“I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated,” Merkel told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting.

G20 vs Trump

She said she did not share the view of British Prime Minister Theresa May who said on Friday that she thought Washington could decide to return to the climate agreement.

Merkel sharply condemned what she described as the “unbridled brutality” exhibited by some protesters in the northern city of Hamburg after violent clashes injured hundreds of police officers.

UPDATE: President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he saw grounds to believe that Russia could maintain its economic growth, noting that it had expanded by 3.1 percent in May.

UPDATE: Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday discussed “global hot-spot issues” on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg, state news agency Xinhua said.

UPDATE: A final statement agreed on Saturday by the leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers exposed a divide between the United States and other G20 members on the Paris climate accord aimed at combating climate change.

“We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” the communique read. “The leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible.”

On trade, another sticking point during a two-day summit in Hamburg, the leaders agreed they would “fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices and recognise the role of legitimate trade defence instruments in this regard.”

UPDATE: Anti-capitalist Black Bloc militants, many hooded in black, moved to the front of a demonstration against the G20 summit of global leaders in the port of Hamburg, police said on Saturday, raising fears of a third day of violence.

After a night of rioting in which radicals looted shops, hurled objects and set alight street barricades, the city centre was in lock down with luxury shops along the main streets barricaded up and many protected by security guards.

At least 40,000 people had gathered by about 1300 GMT and police in riot gear lined the streets. The anti-globalisation ATTAC movement, which is organising the march, said it expected about 100,000 people to attend.

A third day of clashes would be bad news for Chancellor Angela Merkel who wanted to showcase her commitment to free speech by holding the summit in Hamburg, a trading hub with a tradition of leftist radicalism.

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed North Korea’s nuclear program on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Saturday.

“As I look at the current situation, particularly the security environment in the Asia Pacific region including North Korea, we believe that it has become increasingly severe,” Abe told Trump at the meeting.

UPDATE:Russian President Vladimir Putin has told leaders at the G20 summit that Russia has never interfered in the U.S. election, Russian G20 sherpa  Svetlana Lukash said on Twitter on Saturday.

“Pres Putin points to #G20 partners on absence of real evidence of that & confirms that Russia had never interfered in US elections,” she wrote.

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday promised $639 million in funding for humanitarian programmes, including $331 million to help feed starving people in four famine-hit countries – Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

UPDATE: German police braced for a third day of violent clashes with anti-capitalist protesters bent on disrupting the G20 summit of global leaders in Hamburg port, after radicals torched cars, smashed shops and injured officers overnight.

While around 100,000 protestors have staged peaceful marches since Thursday, a hard core of the Black Bloc militants from across Europe have looted stores, set fire to street barricades and hurled bottles and paving slabs.

The head of Hamburg police said he was shocked by the “wave of destructive anger”, riots and arson committed by demonstrators since Thursday.

“We have clear indications it is highly likely that these violent perpetrators will mix in with today’s demonstration ‘G20 – not welcome!’ said Ralf Martin Meyer. “It is to be expected that again, no peaceful protest will be possible.”

UPDATE: A ceasefire deal agreed for southwestern Syria is a positive development that will help support the political process in the country, The U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Syria said on Saturday.

“This is a step in the right direction… All of this leads to supporting the political process,” Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy told reporters in Damascus.

UPDATE: Chinese President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Saturday that China will fulfil its obligations under the Paris climate change agreement, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

UPDATE: Implementation of the Minsk agreements to end the conflict in Ukraine’s crises has been too slow, and there is a need for measures leading to a genuine ceasefire, a Kremlin spokesman said on Saturday.

“There is an understanding that effective measures should be taken, which would lead to real ceasefire on the frontline and to ensure military hardware withdrawal,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a regular conference call.

“Minsk accords are being implemented too slowly, serious disappointment is not concealed,” he said after President Vladimir Putin met with his counterparts from France and Germany in Hamburg on the fringes of the G20 summit

UPDATE: France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed during a bilateral meeting at the G20 summit their common backing for the Paris climate agreement and desire to work on joint renewable energy projects, the French presidency said.

UPDATE: German Government spokesperson told reporters that Merkel, Macron and Putin agreed on the necessity of implementing a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.

UPDATE: Negotiators from the Group of 20 economies have agreed the outlines of a communique at their summit in Hamburg but have one outstanding issue to resolve on climate, EU officials said, adding that they were confident this would be resolved on Saturday.

“The outcome is good. We have a communique,” one EU official said. “There is just one outstanding issue on climate.”

He said the G20 statement included a commitment to “fight protectionism”. The section that still needs to be resolved by the leaders relates to the U.S. insistence that there be a reference to fossil fuels, the official said.

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday met with British Prime Minister Theresa May and said he hoped the United States can quickly seal a bilateral trade deal with the United Kingdom.

“We’re working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries,” Trump told reporters as he met with May on the sidelines of the G20.

“I think we’ll have that done very, very quickly,” Trump said.

Britain cannot seal a separate trade deal with the United States until it has left the European Union in 2019.

UPDATE: The same source said that the unresolved issue on the G20 communique about climate change is linked to U.S. desire to mention fossil fuels. The EU official also said that there are a number of countries that do not want to mention the fossil fuels.

UPDATE: EU official said that the G20 communique will reaffirm the commitment of 19 countries to the Paris Agreement.

UPDATE: G20 leaders are set to discuss on Saturday about trade and climate change.

UPDATE: Mexico and the United States are exploring new ways of combating arms trafficking and organized crime, Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said on Friday at a news conference alongside U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Osorio Chong did not provide details of the plan.

UPDATE: The U.S. and Russian presidents had differing views on how to deal with North Korea’s weapons programs in talks on Friday in Germany, but Washington will continue to press Moscow to do more to curb Pyongyang’s activities, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

“The Russians see it a little differently than we do, so we’re going to continue those discussions and ask them to do more. Russia does have economic activity with North Korea,” Tillerson told reporters

UPDATE: The partners of the heads of stated participating at the G20 meeting had a special program. First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, missed out on the activities due to security concerns over the protests in Hamburg.

 Partner program

UPDATE: British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Friday that while he welcomed any ceasefire in Syria’s six-year-old civil war, he wanted to see results on the ground.

“The recent history of the Syrian civil war is littered with ceasefires and it would be nice … one day to have a ceasefire,” Fallon said at an event in Washington.

“None of these have turned out to be ceasefires, they have been broken persistently, broken by the regime and indeed broken by Russian activity itself. So, … we welcome any ceasefire, but let’s see it, let’s see the results on the ground,” Fallon said.

UPDATE: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed on a ceasefire in southwestern Sryia during talks at the G20 summit, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

The truce, agreed during talks held in a “constructive atmosphere”, would start on July 9, Lavrov told reporters.

The Russian and U.S. leaders had also agreed to work on solving the Ukrainian crisis, and a U.S. representative would visit Russia for consultations on the issue, Lavrov added.

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump opened his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday by raising the concerns of the American people about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

“They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” Tillerson said after the two leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany.

“The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.”

UPDATE: Russia, the United States and Jordan have agreed to back a ceasefire in southwestern Syria and the truce will take effect on Sunday, Jordan’s state news agency Petra said on Friday.

It cited government spokesman Mohammed Momani as saying that based on “arrangements reached in Amman, a ceasefire will take place along a line of contact agreed upon between Syrian government forces and associated troops on one side and rebels on the other.”

A U.S. official said earlier that the U.S., Russia and regional countries had reached a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria.

UPDATE: Tillerson said, after the Trump-Putin meeting, that details of the ceasefire are still being worked out. He also said that the U.S. does not see any role in Syria for Assad in the future. The head of the State Department also told reporters that there will be a transition form Assad and his family in Syria.

UPDATE: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he discussed Ukraine, Syria, terrorism and cyber-security with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Friday, Russian news agencies reported.

“We had a very lengthy conversation,” Putin said after the session, which lasted for more than two hours.

Trump-Putin meeting

Putin apologised for turning up late to his next session, a meeting when meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

UPDATE: The escalating violence prompted Hamburg’s police to call in reinforcements from around Germany to help the 15,000 officers already deployed to the northern port city for the G20 summit.

A Reuters witness said protesters from the radical Black Bloc movement appeared to be trying to reach the city’s riverside Elbphilarmonie concert hall, where leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump were due to attend a concert later.

UPDATE: Putin-Trump meeting lasted for over an hour. President Putin, reportedly told one news agency that he and Trump also discussed cyber-security issues.

UPDATE: The United States, Russia and regional countries have reached a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria, a U.S. official said on Friday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was expected to provide more details of the deal during a press availability in Hamburg later on Friday, the official said.

UPDATE: Putin-Trump meeting is still going on, after more than 90 minutes thou, according to the official schedule, the talks were supposed to last only a half an hour.

UPDATE: Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Friday he hoped a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump would have a positive impact on the Russian economy.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Siluanov also said the issue of protectionism would be mentioned in a summit communique that G20 leaders were working on, adding that protectionism was harmful for the global economy.

Siluanov also said that Russia had no plans to raise taxes in order to service state debt.

UPDATE: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on members of the Group of 20 (G20) nations to champion an open world economy, strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and forestall risks in financial markets, state news agency Xinhua reported.

President Xi at G20

Speaking at the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg, Xi also urged member states to follow a “multilateral trade regime” as global growth remains unsteady despite recovery signs, Xinhua added, amid concerns over growing protectionist pressures, including from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

“We must remain committed to openness and mutual benefit for all so as to increase the size of the global economic ‘pie’,” it quoted Xi as saying.

UPDATE: Nearly all G20 leaders agreed on Friday on the need for free and fair trade, but some differences of opinion mean officials drafting the summit’s final communique still had a long night’s work ahead, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Merkel was speaking at the end of the first day of the G20’s Hamburg summit, where U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist instincts and opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement risked isolating him in a forum set up to improve global policy coordination after the 2007 financial crisis.

“On the issue of trade, virtually everyone believes we need free but also fair trade,” she said. “However, I can predict that as far as trade is concerned in the communique, the sherpas have a lot of work ahead of them tonight.”

Angela Merkel remarks at G20 summit

Discussions remained fraught on trade. “I hope they can bring us a good result tonight. But here the discussions are very difficult, I don’t want to talk around that,” she said.

Merkel added that Trump had attended the first part of the leaders’ discussion on climate policy, despite his differences from other states in this area, even taking the floor.

UPDATE: US and Mexico did not discuss border wall at G20 meeting but will join forces to battle organized crime.

The United States is making very good progress on trade issues with Mexico, President Donald Trump said on Friday after a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but he also repeated a pledge to make the southern neighbor pay for a border wall.

“We’re negotiating NAFTA and some other things with Mexico and we’ll see how it all turns out, but I think that we’ve made very good progress,” Trump said on Friday after the meeting at the Hamburg summit of 20 large economies.

In response to a shouted question from a reporter to Trump about whether he still wants Mexico to pay for his proposed border wall, the U.S. leader said, “Absolutely.”

Pena Nieto, whom Trump called his “friend,” added that the meeting would “help us continue a very strong dialogue” on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

UPDATE: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday welcomed the appointment of Kurt Volker to serve as Washington’s special representative to Ukraine, saying it would help end what he called Russian aggression and restore Crimea to Ukraine.

The former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Volker will be responsible for advancing U.S. interests as set out in the 2015 Minsk agreement and accompany Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Kiev on Sunday, the State Department said.

“Welcome the decision of the US Administration to appoint Kurt Volker a Special representative for Ukraine, following our arrangements,” Poroshenko tweeted.

“Important & timely move in the interests of ending Russian aggression and restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including Crimea.”

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that it was an “honour” to meet him for the first time and said he looked forward to “positive things” in the relationship between the former Cold War rivals.

The face-to-face encounter between Trump and Putin at a Group of 20 summit in Germany was one of the most eagerly anticipated meetings between two leaders in years.

Trump promised a rapprochement with Moscow during his campaign for the presidency last year. But he has been unable to deliver on that pledge because his administration has been dogged by investigations into allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and ties between his campaign team and Moscow.

Moscow has denied any interference and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.

Trump and Putin spoke through translators with their respective foreign ministers present for six minutes before reporters were allowed into the room for their statements. Afterwards the reporters were ushered out and the meeting continued.

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well,” Trump told reporters, sitting alongside the Russian leader.

“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. And it’s an honour to be with you.”

Putin, through a translator, said: “We spoke over the phone with you several times,” adding: “A phone conversation is never enough.”

“I am delighted to be able to meet you personally, Mr. President,” he said, noting that he hoped the meeting would yield results.

Both men sat with legs splayed. Trump listened intently as Putin spoke.

UPDATE: According to the Guardian, the protesters claim that the police escalated the situation in the city by applying undue force on the peaceful protesters.

UPDATE: The leaders of the United States, Japan and South Korea on Friday condemned the ballistic missile test by North Korea this week as a “major escalation” and promised to apply “maximum pressure” to counter the isolated country’s nuclear threat.

The launch on Tuesday was “a major escalation that directly violates multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and that clearly demonstrates the growing threat” North Korea poses to the United States, its neighbors and the world, the three said in a joint statement at the G20 meeting in Germany.

“President Trump reaffirmed the ironclad commitment of the United States to defend the ROK (Republic of Korea) and Japan using the full range of its conventional and nuclear capabilities,” they said.

UPDATE: Putin said that “one shouldn’t lose self-control when it comes to North Korea’s missile program,” and urged a “pragmatic, accurate approach”.

Putin-Tusk meeting G20

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said he was in favour of dialogue with North Korea despite the “nuclear provocation” of its test-launch earlier this week of what the isolated state said was a nuclear-capable intercontinental missile.

UPDATE: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cancelled an appearance in downtown Hamburg on Friday morning due to security concerns, and police declined to clear U.S. First Lady Melania Trump’s motorcade to leave her hotel to join in a tour of the city’s historic harbour, her spokeswoman said.

“She has already missed a good portion of it. It’s too bad, she was really looking forward to it,” Stephanie Grisham said.

UPDATE: President Xi is asking for a better coordination of marcoeconomic policies between G20 states.

UPDATE: The United States is making very good progress on trade issues with Mexico, President Donald Trump said on Friday after a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, but he also repeated a pledge to make the southern neighbour pay for a border wall.

“We’re negotiating NAFTA and some other things with Mexico and we’ll see how it all turns out, but I think that we’ve made very good progress,” Trump said on Friday after the meeting at the Hamburg summit of 20 large economies.

Pena Nieto, whom Trump called his “friend”, added that the meeting would “help us continue a very strong dialogue” on NAFTA.

Disputes over migration, Trump’s proposed border wall, which Mexico says it will not pay for, and his claim that free-trade with Mexico costs jobs in the U.S., have strained relations between the two countries since Trump’s election.

UPDATE: French-Canadian meeting has started. Next up is the Trump-Putin bilateral talks.

French-Canadian meeting G20

UPDATE: The world leaders present at the G20 summit took the group photo. Trump was initially at one end of the front row, but French President Macron replaced him at the far right side of the group.

UPDATE: Watch a livestream of the G20 summit:

UPDATE: Anti-capitalist protesters set fire to cars, barricades, rubbish bins and wooden pallets on Friday as leaders from the world’s top economies convened for a summit in the northern German city of Hamburg.

Police said violence that erupted during marches on Thursday continued into Friday, with protesters slashing the tires of a car belonging to the Canadian delegation to the G20 summit and smashing windows of the consulate of Mongolia.

At least 29 protesters were detained and 111 police officers had been injured as of Friday morning, including three officers who required treatment in hospital.

UPDATE: In a joint communique issued as the leaders gathered in a vast convention centre in Hamburg, Brazil, Russia, India and China – the so-called BRICS countries – called on the G20 to push for implementation of the Paris climate deal despite Trump’s decision last month to pull the United States out of it.

“The Paris agreement on climate change is an important consensus that doesn’t come easily and must not be given up easily,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said G20 leaders would urge Trump to reconsider his decision on Paris.

“We are not renegotiating the Paris agreement, that stays, but I want to see the U.S. looking for ways to rejoin it,” she told the BBC. The meeting comes at a time of major shifts in the global geo-political landscape, with Trump’s “America First” policies pushing Europe and China closer together.

UPDATE: Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump have shaken hands during their first face-to-face encounter at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, the Kremlin said on Friday.

“They shook each other’s hand and said that they would soon hold a separate meeting, would soon see each other,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

Putin and Trump are due to hold detailed one-on-one talks on the sidelines of the summit later on Friday.

When asked if Putin was looking forward to the talks and whether he had lots of questions for Trump, Peskov said he did.

UPDATE: Ahead of the meeting, Trump wrote on Twitter he is looking forward to discuss many subjects with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“I look forward to all meetings today with world leaders, including my meeting with Vladimir Putin. Much to discuss,” Trump wrote.

Trump has said he wants to find ways to work with Putin, a goal made more difficult by sharp differences over Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine, and allegations Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

That means every facial expression and physical gesture will be analyzed as much as any words the two leaders utter as the world tries to read how well Trump, a real estate magnate and former reality television star, gets along with Putin, a former spy.

The fear is that the Republican president, a political novice whose team is still developing its Russia policy, will be less prepared than Putin, who has dealt with the past two U.S. presidents and scores of other world leaders.

“There’s nothing … the Kremlin would like to see more than a (U.S.) president who will settle for a grip and a grin and walk away saying that he had this fabulous meeting with the Kremlin autocrat,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee, said in an interview on MSNBC.

As investigations at home continue into whether there was any collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia the U.S. president has come under pressure to take a hard line against the Kremlin.

Moscow has denied any interference and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.

On Thursday, Trump won praise from at least one Republican hawk in the U.S. Congress after his speech in Warsaw in which he urged Russia to stop its “destabilizing activities” and end its support for Syria and Iran.

“This is a great start to an important week of American foreign policy,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has often been critical of Trump on security issues.

But earlier in the day, Trump declined to say definitively whether he believed U.S. intelligence officials who have said that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“I think it was Russia but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said at a news conference, before slamming Democratic former President Barack Obama for not doing more to stop hacking.


Ahead of Trump’s meeting with Putin, three U.S. senators wrote to Trump to express “deep concern” about reports that his administration planned to discuss the return to Russia of diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration last year in response to alleged Russian election meddling.

Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said returning the facilities would “embolden” Putin and encourage further efforts by Russia to interfere in Western elections. All three are on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The White House declined to offer details on what Trump would request of Putin and what he might offer in exchange for cooperation.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wanted to talk about how the two countries can work together to stabilize war-ravaged Syria.

“The United States is prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on-the-ground ceasefire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance,” Tillerson said before leaving the United States to join Trump in Germany.

Trump was also grappling with a response to North Korea’s successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say had a long enough range to reach Alaska.

Curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions has been Trump’s most pressing foreign policy priority, and he met with leaders from Japan and South Korea on Thursday evening to discuss it. He is also slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20.

“I’d like to see the president figure out how to engage Russia on North Korea,” said Representative Francis Rooney, a Republican from Florida who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“What I suggested to the president here a while back was that since we have all these conflicting issues about Russia right now and we’re still reeling from the fact that they took Crimea, maybe this is an opportunity to reset the Russia relationship in a positive manner,” Rooney said in an interview.


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