Their in­ter­ac­tions were scru­ti­nized closely due to the al­leged med­dling

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin had a pre­vi­ously undis­closed con­ver­sa­tion dur­ing a din­ner for G20 lead­ers at a sum­mit ear­lier this month in Ger­many, a White House of­fi­cial said on Tues­day.

The two lead­ers held a for­mal two-hour bi­lat­eral meet­ing on July 7 in which Trump later said Putin de­nied al­le­ga­tions that he di­rected ef­forts to med­dle in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year.

Trump’s in­ter­ac­tions with the Rus­sian leader were scru­ti­nized closely be­cause of those al­le­ga­tions, which have dom­i­nated his first six months in the White House, and Trump’s com­ments as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date prais­ing the Krem­lin leader.

Trump and Putin first met at the G20 dur­ing a gath­er­ing of other lead­ers, which was shown in a video. They later held the bi­lat­eral meet­ing, which was at­tended briefly by a pool of re­porters.

In the evening, both men at­tended a din­ner with G20 lead­ers. Putin was seated next to US first lady Me­la­nia Trump. The US pres­i­dent went over to them at the con­clu­sion of the din­ner and vis­ited with Putin, the of­fi­cial said. That con­ver­sa­tion had not been pre­vi­ously dis­closed.

“There was no ‘sec­ond meet­ing’ be­tween Pres­i­dent Trump and Pres­i­dent Putin, just a brief con­ver­sa­tion at the end of a din­ner. The in­sin­u­a­tion that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a sec­ond meet­ing is false, ma­li­cious and ab­surd,” the of­fi­cial said.

Late on Tues­day, Trump said: “Fake News story of se­cret din­ner with Putin is “sick”. All G20 lead­ers, and spouses, were in­vited by the Chan­cel­lor of Ger­many. Press knew!”

Fake News story of se­cret din­ner with Putin is “sick”. All G20 lead­ers, and spouses, were in­vited by the Chan­cel­lor of Ger­many. Press knew!” Don­ald Trump, US pres­i­dent

US Pres­i­dent Trump was sched­uled to nom­i­nate Jon Hunts­man, an en­voy to China un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama, as US am­bas­sador to Rus­sia, on Tues­day, a White House of­fi­cial said.

It still re­quires con­fir­ma­tion by the US Se­nate. If con­firmed, the for­mer 2012 GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date would take over a high-pro­file post amid on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­leged Rus­sian med­dling in the elec­tion last year and po­ten­tial con­tacts be­tween Rus­sian of­fi­cials and the Trump cam­paign.

Hunts­man cur­rently serves as chair­man of both the At­lantic Coun­cil, a US think tank, and the Hunts-

Lasts ‘an hour’

News of the con­ver­sa­tion, first re­ported by Ian Brem­mer, the pres­i­dent of po­lit­i­cal risk con­sul­tancy Eura­sia Group, could raise re­newed con­cern as Con­gress and a spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions by US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that Rus­sia in­ter­fered to help Trump, a Repub­li­can, win the pres­i­dency.

Trump said there was no col­lu­sion and Rus­sia has de­nied in­ter­fer­ence.

Brem­mer said Trump got up from his seat half­way through din­ner and spent about an hour talk­ing “pri­vately and an­i­mat­edly” with Putin, “joined only by Putin’s own trans­la­tor”.

The lack of a US trans­la­tor raised eye­brows among other lead­ers at the din­ner, Brem­mer said.

He called it a “breach of na­tional se­cu­rity pro­to­col”.

The White House of­fi­cial said the lead­ers and their spouses were only per­mit­ted to have one trans­la­tor at­tend the din­ner. Trump sat next to Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s wife. His trans- la­tor spoke Ja­panese.

“When Trump spoke to Putin, they used the Rus­sian trans­la­tor, since the Amer­i­can trans­la­tor did not speak Rus­sian,” the of­fi­cial said.

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