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Trump Says He Didn't Discuss Sanctions At Hamburg Meeting With Putin

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Donald Trump (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak during their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he did not discuss sanctions during a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Hamburg earlier this week.

"Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin," Trump tweeted on July 9.

"Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!” he added in the tweet.

Putin and Trump met face-to-face for the first time in the German port city on the sidelines of the summit.

Originally scheduled to last 35 minutes, the talks lasted for two hours and 15 minutes as the two leaders discussed the wars in Syria and Ukraine, the crisis over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, cybersecurity, and Russia's alleged election meddling.

While Trump has repeatedly called for improving ties with Moscow, his administration has continued to publicly maintain pressure on Russia -- including with sanctions -- over its seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and backing of armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Those punitive measures were introduced under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, who had a visibly icy rapport with Putin and whose administration was loathed by the Kremlin.

Trump's administration has also been dogged by the U.S. intelligence conclusion that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.

Both the U.S. Congress and the FBI are investigating the hacking and contacts between associates of the U.S. president and Russian officials, and any serious push for detente with Moscow would almost certainly face stiff resistance from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Washington.

Putin and Trump discussed the issue during their meeting, but appeared to come away with different impressions of the talks.

Putin said after the meeting that Trump seemed to agree with Russia's position that there were "no grounds" for accusations of meddling.

Trump tweeted on July 9 that it was "time to move forward in working constructively with Russia," while on the topic of Russian interference in the November U.S. presidential election, he wrote "I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it."

Trump added in the tweet that he’s already given his opinion on the topic, a likely reference to his statement at a July 6 news conference in Warsaw ahead of the G20 summit when he said that "nobody really knows for sure" who interfered in the election.

"I think it was Russia and I think it could have been other people in other countries," he said in the Polish capital when asked about the issue.

However, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was present during the Putin meeting in Hamburg, has given a differing account of what transpired, saying on July 8 that the issue was "something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point."

He added that Trump pressed Putin "on more than one occasion" about Moscow's involvement in the U.S. election, and that Putin had denied any interference by the Kremlin in the election.

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