No sched­ule for Trump-Putin meet­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

MOSCOW — Rus­sia and the United States are still dis­cussing the tim­ing of the first faceto-face en­counter be­tween Don­ald Trump and Vladimir Putin, ex­pected to take place at a G20 sum­mit in Germany on Fri­day, a Krem­lin aide said on Mon­day.

Since Trump was elected US pres­i­dent, Rus­sia has been keenly an­tic­i­pat­ing his first meet­ing with Putin, hop­ing it would trig­ger a re­set in US-Rus­sia re­la­tions that plunged to post-Cold War lows un­der Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama.

But with Trump em­broiled in a row at home over his as­so­ciates’ al­leged links to Moscow, the en­counter with Putin has be­come a mine­field.

Krem­lin for­eign pol­icy aide Yuri Ushakov told re­porters the Trump-Putin meet­ing would hap­pen on the side­lines of the sum­mit on Fri­day in Ham­burg, RIA news agency re­ported. But it was not yet fi­nal­ized how it would fit into the sum­mit’s sched­ule.

“We will be look­ing for cer­tain breaks, win­dows to hold this, the most im­por­tant, meet­ing,” Ushakov said.

“We have a lot of is­sues, which should be dis­cussed at the high­est level. ... That’s why this meet­ing, this first per­sonal con­tact, is so im­por­tant.”

Asked about the agenda for the meet­ing, Ushakov said: “I’ve heard the Amer­i­cans want to raise the is­sues of ter­ror­ism and Syria. It seems to me that would be pretty rea­son­able.”

Ushakov said that ties be­tween Rus­sia and the US were at “zero level”.

The Krem­lin aide urged the US “to save us from the need to re­tal­i­ate” against Wash­ing­ton for ex­pelling Rus­sian diplo­mats and seiz­ing two Rus­sian diplo­matic com­pounds on US soil, one in Mary­land and the other on Long Is­land. He said Mos- cow’s pa­tience “has its lim­its”.

Obama or­dered the ex­pul­sion of the 35 Rus­sians in late De­cem­ber, seized the com­pounds, and im­posed sanc­tions on two Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence agen­cies over what he said was their in­volve­ment in hack­ing po­lit­i­cal groups in the Nov 8 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Rus­sia has de­nied in­ter­fer­ing in the US elec­tion. Putin said at the time he would not re­tal­i­ate im­me­di­ately, in the ex­pec­ta­tion that re­la­tions would im­prove un­der Trump.

With no thaw ma­te­ri­al­iz­ing yet, Rus­sian of­fi­cials have said this month that they may now have to take “sym­met­ri­cal” steps in re­tal­i­a­tion.

We have a lot of is­sues, which should be dis­cussed at the high­est level.” Yuri Ushakov, Krem­lin for­eign pol­icy aide

ALEXAN­DRA WIMLEY / CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA NEWSCOM

Peo­ple gather out­side a fed­eral court­house in Ur­bana, Il­lio­nis, on Mon­day as the sus­pect in the kid­nap­ping of Zhang Yingy­ing, a Chi­nese scholar at the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois, make his first ap­pear­ance. Brendt Chris­tensen, 28, was or­dered to be held with­out bond un­til his next hear­ing on Wed­nes­day.

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