Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin discussed on Friday the alleged Russian hacking of last year's US presidential election during their first meeting. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the exchanges as “robust”, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Mr Trump had accepted Putin's assertions that his country was not responsible.
But Mr. Tillerson said it was not clear whether the two countries would ever come to an agreement on what happened.
I think the president is rightly focused on how we move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point, he added.
The US and Russian presidents held their first face-to-face talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg, which is being held amid sometimes violent protests.
Other topics discussed during their meeting - which lasted nearly two-and-a-quarter hours, longer than originally planned (40 minutes)- included the war in Syria, terrorism and cybersecurity.
The president opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr Tillerson, part of the US delegation, told reporters afterwards.
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.
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!
Lavrov said: President Trump said he heard clear statements... that Russian authorities did not intervene [in the US election], and he accepted these declarations.
Mr 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, Mr Trump told Mr Putin: It's an honor to be with you. Mr Putin replied: I'm delighted to meet you personally. Mr 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.
Mr 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 two men had staked out opposing views on major international issues in the run-up to the summit:
On Thursday, Mr Trump used a speech in the Polish capital Warsaw to call on Russia ro stop destabilizing Ukraine and other countries, and join the community of responsible nations
Setting out his own G20 agenda in German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Mr Putin called for US-led sanctions on his country, imposed in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, to be lifted.
Mr Putin also argued strongly in favor of the Paris climate agreement, saying it was a secure basis for long-term climate regulation and Russia wanted to make a comprehensive contribution to its implementation
President Trump has taken the US out of the Paris agreement.
Climate change and trade are set to dominate the rest of the two-day G20 meeting, taking place amid clashes between protesters and police in the streets outside the venue that have left dozens injured.
A huge police operation is trying to keep demonstrators - who are protesting against the presence of Mr Trump and Mr. Putin, climate change and global wealth inequalities - well away from the summit venue, and water cannon have been deployed.
The US First Lady was at one point unable to leave her hotel in Hamburg because of the protests. Mrs. Trump had been due to take part in an excursion with other leaders' spouses, but her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said: The Hamburg police could not give us clearance to leave.
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So here's the thing, I have seen very little evidence that points to the RF hacking the election. The problem is that the FBI and CIA refuse to release any evidence that they may have to support their assertions.Jul 10th, 2017 - 01:14 am 0
The hacked election narrative is a thing pushed by the HRC camp to justify her loss of the presidential election. So, it serves to stop the Democratic Party taking a good look at itself. I stopped listening when I heard a Democrat (from the DNC, I think) claiming that one of the main vectors of this hacking was the RF owned media organization 'RT'. This is just too bizarre! I know what RT is but if I was to walk down the street asking the people I doubt that I would find one person who would know of it. It cannot possibly have had any influence at all.