US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had a second and previously undisclosed meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany earlier this month, US officials say.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Tuesday that the two held an informal talk during the dinner at the summit in the German city of Hamburg on July 7, hours after their first formal bilateral sit-down.
Spicer did not refer to the length or the subject of the conversation.
US National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton also acknowledged that a second meeting had taken place at the world leaders’ dinner, with Trump leaving his seat to occupy an empty chair next to Putin.
“There was a couples-only social dinner at the G20. Toward the end, the President spoke to Putin at the dinner,” Anton said in an interview with CNN. “No staff or Cabinet were at the dinner at all, for any of the countries,” with the exception of translators.
The two leaders did not go to a separate room for their conversation, but remained in the main room where the dinner was being hosted, according to Anton.
The official declined to provide further details on the Trump-Putin conversation, citing the fact that no staff were present at the time.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, (c-R) flanked by (from L) Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, US First Lady Melania Trump, Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri and China’s President Xi Jinping, attends the banquet after a concert at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
During their first formal and face-to-face meeting on that day, the two presidents exchanged viewpoints on a host of international problems and bilateral issues such as the ongoing crises in Syria and Ukraine, anti-terrorism campaign and cyber security.
of the second encounter came as Trump was struggling at home with a deepening scandal over alleged Russian efforts to help him defeat his rival Hillary Clinton in the last year’s White House race.
The scandal has now entangled his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, who last week released emails purportedly showing he embraced Russia’s efforts to support his father’s presidential campaign, and admitting he would “love” to get dirt from Moscow on Clinton.
Trump later defended his son, praising his “transparency” for releasing the email chain and again condemning the investigation about whether Moscow helped him win the White House last November.