Trump can­cels meet­ing with Putin at G-20 sum­mit

The Wichita Eagle - - News - BY ANNE GEARAN AND JOHN WAG­NER

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day can­celed a one-on-one meet­ing with Rus­sian leader Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina, a de­ci­sion he an­nounced just hours after the Krem­lin had pub­licly con­firmed the time and date.

In a tweet from Air Force One en route to Buenos Aires, Trump blamed the can­cel­la­tion on Rus­sia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors in the Black Sea over the week­end. Other top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley, had con­demned Rus­sia’s ac­tions, but Trump had equiv­o­cated in re­cent days.

Trump had sig­naled in an in­ter­view with the Wash­ing­ton Post on Tues­day that he might forgo meet­ing Putin after Rus­sia’s naval ac­tion sparked global con­dem­na­tion and a sharp es­ca­la­tion in ten­sions be­tween Rus­sia and Ukraine.

But he seemed to re­verse course as he left the White House on Thurs­day, telling re­porters that the meet­ing “prob­a­bly” was still on and that he planned to read a “fi­nal­ized re­port” on the Black Sea stand­off while on the plane.

Early in the flight, how­ever, Trump tweeted: “Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been re­turned to Ukraine from Rus­sia, I have de­cided it would be best for all par­ties con­cerned to can­cel my pre­vi­ously sched­uled meet­ing in Ar­gentina with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.”

“I look for­ward to a mean­ing­ful Sum­mit again as soon as this sit­u­a­tion is re­solved!” Trump added.

Trump’s de­ci­sion was cheered by Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. He later took to Twit­ter and wrote in English: “This is how great lead­ers act!”

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Sanders told re­porters on Air Force One that Trump did not make a de­ci­sion un­til talk­ing on board with Chief of Staff John Kelly and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, as well as by phone with na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton, who is in Brazil.

Sanders said she was “not aware” whether Trump had di­rectly in­formed Putin of the can­cel­la­tion but said “there was some back and forth” through other chan­nels, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Sanders also told re­porters that Trump’s sched­uled meet­ings at the G-20 with South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in and Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan would be down­graded to more in­for­mal “pull-aside” con­ver­sa­tions.

That an­nounce­ment ap­peared to sur­prise South Korean and Turk­ish of­fi­cials and left them scram­bling to find out more.

Trump’s sched­uled meet­ings with the lead­ers of Ar­gentina, China, Ja­pan, In­dia and Ger­many ap­pear to still be mov­ing for­ward as planned.

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