reported between Trump, Putin.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump had a second, previously undisclosed, private conversation with President Vladimir Putin of Russia this month, the White House acknowledged Tuesday.
The hourlong conversation in Hamburg, Germany, took place at a private dinner among world leaders at a concert hall on the banks of the Elbe River during the Group of 20 economic summit meeting, with only a Kremlin interpreter present to listen to the exchange. It followed a formal meeting between the two presidents that lasted more than two hours earlier in the day and included their foreign ministers for a fraught discussion about Moscow’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.
In the earlier meeting, Trump questioned the Russian president about his role in the U.S. vote. Putin denied his involvement, and the two men agreed to move beyond the dispute in the interest of finding common ground on other matters, including a limited cease-fire in Syria.
But the intimate dinner conversation, of which there is no official U.S. government record, because no American official other than the president was involved, is the latest to raise eyebrows. Foreign leaders who witnessed it later commented privately on the oddity of an American president flaunting such a close rapport with his Russian counterpart.
“Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United
Foreign leaders who witnessed it later commented privately on the oddity of an American president flaunting such a close rapport with his Russian counterpart.
States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a New York- based research and consulting firm, who said he heard directly from attendees. “They were flummoxed, they were confused, and they were startled.”
The encounter occurred more than midway through the lengthy dinner, when Trump left his seat near Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and approached Putin, who had been seated next to Trump’s wife, first lady Melania Trump.
In a statement, a White House official on Tuesday described the meeting as routine and brief and explained the lack of an American translator by noting that the president was accompanied by a Japanese interpreter who did not speak Russian. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that any insinuation that the White House tried to hide the encounter was false.