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Putin and Trump meet on sidelines of G20 summit

If Moscow and Washington want to iron out pressing issues together, phone talks are not enough, face-to-face meetings between leaders are essential, says President Putin

HAMBURG, July 7. /TASS/. HAMBURG, July 7. /TASS/. The first personal meeting between Russian and US Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, has ended, a source in one of the delegations told TASS on Friday.

The 135-minute meeting was held on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit in Germany’s Hamburg. Until today, the two leaders have had only telephone conversations.

The meeting was held in Congress Center Hamburg and those taking part in it are Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

If Moscow and Washington want to iron out pressing issues together, phone talks are not enough, face-to-face meetings between leaders are essential, according to Putin.

"Dear Mr. President, we have spoken with you over the phone several times on very important matters of the bilateral and international agenda," Putin said. "Naturally, telephone conversations are never enough if we want to find solutions to pressing issues on the bilateral agenda and the most sensitive, acute issues on the international agenda," personal meetings are needed for that.

The Russian leader also noted that he is happy to get acquainted with Trump and hopes that their meeting will yield positive results. "I am happy to meet you and hope that, as you said, our meeting will bring positive results," he said.

Trump said "President Putin and I have been discussing various things and I think that it’s going very well. We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned."

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump opted for not answering reporters’ questions at their meeting in spite of the fuss around the talks.

Putin and Trump entered the negotiation room and when reporters were allowed in, both heads of state had taken seats in armchairs with the top diplomats sitting beside them.

Over 30 reporters immediately crowded the room and first Trump and then Putin said a few words about the importance of this direct dialogue.

After these short remarks, the leaders indicated that the part of the meeting open for the media was over. The reporters began shouting out questions deafening one another. Putin and Trump did not react to these requests and continued speaking in undertones.

When requested to shake hands, the presidents showed no response. Nevertheless, due to the reporters’ persistence Putin and Trump shook hands even twice.

The journalists’ fuss got both the presidents and foreign ministers to smile. After the reporters left the room, the meeting was continued behind closed doors.

Global trade

Putin told Trump at the first working meeting of the G20 summit that no fairness in global trade can be talked about under the conditions of the existing restrictions, Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin told reporters on Friday.

The US President paid much attention to the topic of global trade fairness in his statement, Oreshkin said. "When the President of the Russian Federation spoke, he said that President Trump is speaking about fairness in international trade but what fairness can be talked about in a situation where financial and trade restrictions are in place," the minister said.

The President of China Xi Jinping also acted as a steadfast supported of free global trade at the meeting, Oreshkin said.

A report on restrictions introduced by countries was earlier prepared for the Group of Twenty, the Russian minister said. "The United States is a strong leader" in this list since October 2016 because thirty such restrictions were identified in the US economy in the report, Oreshkin noted. "Russia is closer to the bottom in this list; just five such measures were applied," he said.

Vladimir Putin also commented on the situation in the Russian economy and called attention to the end of recession and recovering growth in the national economy expected to be 2% as of 2017 year-end, Oreshkin said. The Russian leader also highlighted risks existing in the global economic system that are related in the first instance to accumulated sovereign and corporate debts, the minister said. "He [Putin] also said it is important to think about developing a mechanism of sovereign debt restructuring because such mechanism if set out in detail may be needed in a situation when mentioned problems occur in a country with a high debt level," Oreshkin added.