Trump-Putin summit ‘off to a good start’ in Helsinki

- Advertisement -

US president Donald Trump said a high stakes summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki has enjoyed a “good start”.

Mr Trump called his meeting with Mr Putin “a good start, a very good start for everybody” as the two leaders and their top advisers sat across the table from one another during lunch.

The White House had scheduled 90 minutes for that meeting, while the Russians said it lasted two hours and 10 minutes.

The US president was joined at the lunch by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and other top aides.

After the lunch, Mr Trump and Mr Putin will appear for a joint news conference in Helsinki.

The Russian and US delegates at the dinner table
The two sides sit down to lunch (AP)

Russia’s foreign ministry tweeted “we agree” in reaction to Mr Trump’s morning tweet criticising US “foolishness and stupidity” for the state of relations between the two countries.

Mr Trump’s tweet said: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

The US leader has promised to raise Russian election meddling with Mr Putin, but he did not do so publicly when he discussed the agenda as they first met at the presidential palace in Helsinki.

Neither leader revealed what was discussed during their meeting, although Mr Trump listed a series of topics ahead of the talks that did not include Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
The two leaders shake hands (AP)

“But I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship. I really think the world wants to see us get along.”

Mr Putin said he and Mr Trump have maintained regular contact through phone calls and meetings at international events, but “the time has come to have a thorough discussion on various international problems and sensitive issues”.

He added: “There are quite a few of them for us to pay attention to.”

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
The pair appeared relaxed during their initial meeting (AP)

Mr Trump said last week that he would raise the meddling issue again with Mr Putin, but questions have been swirling about whether the US leader will sharply and publicly rebuke his Russian counterpart for the interference that prompted a special investigation probe that Trump has repeatedly labelled a “witch hunt”.

Addressing reporters before the one-on-one meeting, Mr Putin struck a casual pose during Mr Trump’s remarks, slouching in his chair with his legs wide and eyes low.

Vladimir Putin
That the meeting has taken place at all can be regarded as a triumph of sorts by Mr Putin (AP)

After Mr Trump concluded his remarks, American reporters shouted several questions about whether he would bring up election meddling during his discussions with Putin.

Mr Trump did not respond; Mr Putin appeared to smirk.

With that, the leaders gave a quick handshake and their private meeting in the opulent Gothic Hall was under way – just the two of them, each with a translator.

They continued the discussion with an expanded group of aides and over lunch in the Hall of Mirrors, once the emperor’s throne room.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.