Smiles and snaps: Trump and Putin's delicate diplomatic dance
DANANG, Nov 11 ( AFP) - Talks between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, a much- anticipated box office event at an Asia-Pacific summit, were up in the air Saturday as the leaders swapped warm greetings in Vietnam but kept the world guessing on a formal meeting.
The question of whether the US and Russian leaders will hold official discussions on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the resort city of Danang has added a layer of diplomatic intrigue to an event dominated by trade discussions.
Trump's relationship with Moscow has haunted the first year of his presidency, with key former aides under a US investigation for alleged collaboration with the Kremlin.
Overly amicable talks between Trump and Putin would be an awkward sell for the White House as it denies any wrongdoing.
Instead a delicate diplomatic dance has been on show, giving glimpses of a warm relationship but no substantive talks.
The two men have met in Danang three times since late Friday, when they posed for a photo side by side in loose-fit- ting blue shirts custom made for the summit.
They again warmly shook hands on Saturday morning as leaders sat down for talks and then briefly chatted as they walked together to a podium for a “family photo” of attendees.
Moscow's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov also had a short meeting with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson.
Asked to give details on their talks, Lavrov glibly replied “I can, but I wouldn't”.
Russia has denied allegations of interfering in the US election last year, won by Trump in a shock victory.
Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an associate are under house arrest on charges including conspiracy to launder money, linked to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into allegations that the campaign colluded with Russia.
Yet the US leader also wants Russian support for his efforts to isolate North Korea in a bid to restrain its nuclear ambitions.
MADRID, Nov 11 (AFP) - A protest is expected in Barcelona Saturday calling for the release of jailed separatist leaders, the day after pro-independence Catalan parliamentarian Carme Forcadell was freed on bail.
Separatists have called on supporters to match the annual turn-out of Catalonia's national day, when hundreds of thousands gather in the city. The demonstration is due to take place from 17:00 (16:00 GMT).
Forcadell, the sacked speaker of Catalonia's parliament, left a prison near Madrid on Friday hours after supporters posted her bail of 150,000 euros, ending her brief detention.
Iraqi forces launch offensive to recapture last town in Islamic State control
ERBIL, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Iraqi forces launched an offensive on Saturday to capture Rawa, the last remaining town under Islamic-State control, leaving the group's self-proclaimed caliphate on the verge of complete defeat.
The capture of the town would mark the end of Islamic State's era of territorial rule over a so- called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.
China shopping festival smashes record at halfway mark
SHANGHAI Nov 11 (Reuters) - Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, said its Singles' Day sales surged past last year's total just after midday Saturday, hitting a record $18 billion, pointing to a likely giant haul for the world's biggest shopping event.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and US President Donald Trump talk as they attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 11, 2017 AFP / Sputnik / Mikhail Klimentyev
Myanmar's State Counselor Aung Sang Suu Kyi arrives at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, north of Manila on Nov 11, ahead of the 31st Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. AFP / Noel Celis