- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2017

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for their first face-to-face meeting Friday for highly anticipated talks that Mr. Trump said were “going well,” even as both leaders looked to project power and cooperation to audiences at home and around the globe.

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it is going well,” Mr. Trump said during a break in the talks on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. “We’ve had some very, very good talks.”

The meeting is overshadowed by Russia interference in the U.S. presidential election last year and Democrats’ unsubstantiated allegations of Trump campaign collusion.

Neither Mr. Trump or Mr. Putin said what topics had come up so far in their discussions.

Mr. Trump said the discussions would continue, and “we look forward to a lot of positive things happening for Russia, for the United States and for everybody concerned.”

Mr. Putin also expressed optimism for the relationship and the need for closer ties between the former Cold War foes.

“We spoke over the phone,” he said through a translator, “but phone conversations are never enough definitely.”

The two leaders have spoken by phone three times since Mr. Trump took office, according to the White House

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin stuck a serious tone before the assembled news media, exchanging pleasantries and a handshake.

“It is an honor to be with you,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Putin said, “I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally. And I hope that, as you have said, our meetings will yield positive results.”

Heading into the meeting, Mr. Trump sharpened the lines of division between Washington and Moscow, criticizing Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and Syria and praising NATO for its vital role in defending Europe against aggression.

The White House said there was not set agenda for the meeting. Likely topics for the meeting include the election meddling, the Syria civil war in which the U.S. and Russia support opposing sides, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the fight against the Islamic State group and radical Islamic terrorism.

“Much to discuss,” Mr. Trump tweeted in advance of the meeting.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin will be joined at the meeting by U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the White House said.

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