President Trump left his seat and headed to Vladimir Putin, who had been sitting next to Melania Trump, media said. The president was alone with Vladimir Putin, apart from the attendance of the Russian president’s official interpreter.
Donald Trump had been seated next to Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s wife, so the US interpreter at the dinner spoke Japanese, not Russian. No media were in attendance.
The length of the talks has been disputed.
Ian Bremmer, president of the US-based Eurasia Group, who first reported them in a newsletter to clients, said: “Donald Trump got up from the table and sat down with Putin for about an hour. It was very animated and very friendly.”
No-one else was nearby, so the topics of discussion were not known, he said.
Image NBC News
Ian Bremmer had not been at the dinner but said details were given to him by unnamed attendees who, he said, were “flummoxed, confused and startled” by the turn of events.
He told Bloomberg he had never before seen “two major countries with a constellation of national interests that are as dissident while the two leaders seem to be doing everything possible to make nice-nice and be close to each other”.
In a statement, a senior White House official said there was no “second meeting”, just a brief conversation after dinner.
The official said: “The insinuation that the White House has tried to <hide> a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”
National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said it was not a meeting but a “pull aside”, adding: “A conversation over dessert should not be characterized as a meeting.”
President Trump later said on Twitter: “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is <sick>. All G20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”
The dinner and its attendees have always been known. Only the Trump-Putin discussion had not been reported before.
At the earlier, formal meeting, their first face-to-face encounter, President Trump said he had repeatedly pressed President Putin about the allegations of interference in the US vote.
“I said, <Did you do it?> He said, <No, I did not, absolutely not>. I then asked him a second time, in a totally different way. He said, <Absolutely not>.”
There are congressional investigations, and one by a special counsel, into the allegations of Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion with the Trump team.
On July 18, the Senate intelligence committee said it wanted to interview Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and other members of the Trump team, over a meeting they had with a Russian lawyer in June 2016.
Donald Trump Jr. said he had attended the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya as he was promised damaging material on Hillary Clinton, but it did not materialize.
On July 19, Natalia Veselnitskaya told Russia’s RT TV channel she would be willing to testify before the Senate on the matter.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Trump would nominate former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia, a key post for a president who promised to improve relations with Moscow.
Jon Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China and Singapore, needs to have his name confirmed by the Senate.
The suspicions over Russian interference are likely to play a significant factor in his confirmation process, correspondents say.
Leaders of 19 nations at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, have renewed their pledge to implement the Paris deal on climate change, despite the US pulling out.
Deadlock over the issue had held up the last day of talks in Hamburg but a final agreement was eventually reached.
The final agreement acknowledges President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement without undermining the commitment of other countries.
The compromise comes after violent protests in the host city.
The joint summit statement released on July 8 said: “We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”
However, the leaders of the other G20 members agreed the accord was “irreversible”.
The statement also said the US would “endeavor to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.
President Trump has pledged to help the US coal industry make a comeback and has previously characterized the Paris agreement as aiming to disadvantage his country’s workers.
In press conference as the two-day summit drew to a close, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she still deplored President Trump’s position on the Paris accord but she was “gratified” the other 19 nations opposed its renegotiation.
As well as insisting on the inclusion of separate America-only paragraphs in the final text, Donald Trump canceled his own scheduled news conference on July 8, reinforcing the image of the G20 as the G19 + 1.
“I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated,” Angela Merkel told reporters.
Angela Merkel said she did not share the view of UK Prime Minister Theresa May that Washington could decide to return to the climate agreement.
However, Theresa May reiterated her belief that the US could rejoin the accord in her news conference on July 8.
French President Emmanuel Macron also remained hopeful of persuading President Trump to change his mind, saying: “I never despair of convincing him because I think it’s my duty.”
Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris would host another summit on December 12 to make further progress on the climate agreement and to address financing.
There have been large protests in the city, with demonstrators and armed police clashing into the early hours of Saturday.
Demonstrators – who were protesting against the presence of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, climate change and global wealth inequalities – set fire to vehicles and barricades, threw rocks at officers and looted shops.
At one point, police chased protesters across rooftops while officers on the streets used water cannon on protesters.
Nearly 200 police officers were injured during the protests. Dozens of protesters have been detained.
Other topics discussed during their meeting – which lasted nearly two-and-a-quarter hours, longer than originally planned – included the war in Syria, terrorism and cybersecurity.
Image NBC News
Rex Tillerson, part of the US delegation, told reporters afterwards: “The president opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election.”
“They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement.
“President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has done in the past.”
Rex Tillerson said the two leaders had “connected very quickly”, adding: “There was a very clear positive chemistry between the two. There are so many issues on the table… Just about everything got touched upon… Neither one of them wanted to stop.
“I believe they even sent in the First Lady [Melania Trump] at one point to see if she could get us out of there, but that didn’t work either… We did another hour. Clearly she failed!”
Sergei Lavrov told reporters: “President Trump said he heard clear statements… that Russian authorities did not intervene [in the US election], and he accepted these declarations.”
Rex Tillerson was asked as he was leaving the news conference if this was accurate, but declined to answer.
Earlier, as the talks began in front of the media before going into private session, President Trump told President Putin: “It’s an honor to be with you.”
President Putin replied: “I’m delighted to meet you personally.”
Donald Trump added: “Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well.
“We’ve had some very, very good talks. We’re going to have a talk now and obviously that will continue. We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned.”
Vladimir Putin, via a translator, said that while they had previously spoken by phone, that would never be as good as meeting face to face.
The G20 (Group of Twenty) is a summit for 19 countries, both developed and developing, plus the EU.
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