Posts Tagged ‘Sergei Lavrov’

China, Russia urge end to North Korea vicious cycle

September 19, 2017

AFP

© KCNA/AFP/File | North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location
NEW YORK (AFP) – The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers called for a peaceful end to the “vicious cycle” on the Korean peninsula as they met in New York for the UN General Assembly, Beijing said Tuesday.Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov urged all parties to seek a “peaceful resolution” to the current stand-off with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Korean Peninsula nuclear problem must be solved through peaceful means,” it quoted Wang as saying, adding that “the current deepening vicious cycle must be broken”.

“Restoring peace talks is also a necessary step to carrying out the UN Security Council’s resolution,” he said.

Lavrov said Russia’s position on the issue is “completely identical” to China’s, the statement said.

Russia has joined China’s call for a “dual-track” approach in which North Korea suspends its weapons programme in return for the United States halting military drills in the region.

The White House said earlier that US President Donald Trump had spoken with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping over the phone, saying the two leaders were “committed to maximizing pressure on North Korea through vigorous enforcement of United Nations Security Council resolutions”.

Trump is currently in New York for the UN General Assembly but Xi — who has a major Communist Party congress next month that will cement his leadership for the next five years — is not attending the event.

The UN Security Council last week imposed a fresh set of sanctions, though Washington toned down its original proposals to secure support from China and Russia.

Regional tensions have soared this month as North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan.

Trump has not ruled out a military option for dealing with Pyongyang.

The US flew four F-35B stealth fighter jets and two B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula on Monday in a show of force.

Separately, China and Russia began a joint naval exercise east of the Korean peninsula.

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Russia, Turkey, Iran Close to Syria De-escalation Zones Deal

September 14, 2017

ASTANA — Russia, Turkey and Iran are close to finalizing an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria, a senior Russian negotiator said on Thursday.

The three sides are discussing details of the agreement at meetings in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, Alexander Lavrentyev, who leads the Russian delegation, told reporters.

(Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov)

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Zarif Meeting Russian Leadership In Sochi Ahead of Astana Talks

Foreign Ministers, Sergei Lavrov (C) of Russia, Walid al-Muallem (L) of Syria and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, attend a news conference in Moscow, April 14, 2017

Foreign Ministers, Sergei Lavrov (C) of Russia, Walid al-Muallem (L) of Syria and Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, attend a news conference in Moscow, April 14, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is visiting Russia’s Black Sea resort town of Sochi on September 13 where he was expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Zarif’s talks with the Russian leadership would focus on the conflict in Syria as well as “the Middle East in general, issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, and the situation in Iraq and the Persian Gulf region.”

Zarif has not visited Russia since April, but high level Iranian officials have had frequent meetings with their Russian counterparts in Tehran and Moscow.

The meeting comes a day before the start of a sixth round of Syria peace talks in Astana that are sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey – negotiations that are separate from United Nations-sponsored talks in Geneva.
Experts from Russia, Turkey, and Iran arrived in Astana ahead of the two-day talks and were holding consultations there on September 13.

Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, and a Syrian government delegation also arrived in Kazakhstan’s capital on September 13 for the Astana talks, which will include representatives of some Syrian opposition groups and an observer mission from the United States.

The U.S. delegation is headed by David Satterfield, the U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

The U.S. State Department said Satterfield would “reinforce U.S. support for all efforts to achieve a sustainable de-escalation of violence and provision of unhindered humanitarian aid.”

But it said Washington “remains concerned with Iran’s involvement as a so-called ‘guarantor’ of the Astana process.”

It says Iran’s “activities in Syria and unquestioning support” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government “have perpetuated the conflict and increased the suffering of ordinary Syrians.”

In recent weeks, Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concern about Iran’s presence in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Russia six times since 2014 and held talk with President Vladimir Putin and other Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov regarding Syria.

According to Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry, meeting is expected to focus on how to regulate the operations of “de-escalation forces in Syria and formation of the control forces in Idlib” – a Syrian province bordering Turkey.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on September 10 that Moscow hopes agreements on a fourth de-escalation zone in Syria near the city of Idlib will be formalized at the meeting.

Russia media reports have quote senior Russian military officials as saying that Moscow wants Russian military police units to be deployed in Idlib to monitor a cease-fire.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Kazinform, TASS, Izvestia, and Interfax

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-zarif-visiting-russia/28732756.html

Saudi Arabia vows pressure on Qatar until demands met during Russian FM Lavrov meeting

September 10, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (R) shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov following a press conference at the ministry headquarters in Jeddah on September 10, 2017

JEDDAH (SAUDI ARABIA) (AFP) – Saudi Arabia said Sunday it would keep pressuring Qatar until demands by a bloc of Arab states are met, dampening hopes for a US-mediated resolution to a diplomatic crisis.”We will continue to take action and we will maintain our position until Qatar responds,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, speaking alongside his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

The bloc’s 13 demands include Doha ending its alleged support for Islamist extremist groups, closing a Turkish military base in the emirate and downgrading diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Qatar “must respond to these requests in order to open a new page,” Jubeir said.

The Saudi move came just two days after US President Donald Trump spoke with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a bid to mediate.

Trump said he believed the dispute could be solved “fairly easily”.

The Saudi and Qatari rulers spoke by phone on Saturday, raising hope for talks.

But Riyadh later suspended the dialogue, accusing Doha of distorting facts by wrongly implying that Saudi Arabia had initiated the outreach.

A United Arab Emirates minister late Saturday voiced support for the Saudi decision on Twitter, accusing Qatar of “wasting an opportunity” to resolve the crisis.

“I hope that Doha will stop manoeuvring… and act transparently. There is no other way,” state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said on his official Twitter account.

Saudi Arabia led the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of bankrolling extremist groups and of being too close to Riyadh’s regional arch-rival Tehran. Doha denies the accusations.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are both key US allies.

Doha hosts a major US air base, home to the headquarters of Centcom — the regional command which leads operations against the Islamic State jihadist group.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks on September 15, in what will be his first trip to a western capital since the crisis began.

UAE Criticizes ‘Colonial’ Role of Iran, Turkey in Syria

August 29, 2017

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates urged Iran and Turkey on Monday to end what it called their “colonial” actions in Syria, signaling unease about diminishing Gulf Arab influence in the war.

Allied to regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, the UAE opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backer Iran, and is wary of Turkey, a friend of Islamist forces the UAE opposes throughout the Arab world.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan urged “the exit of those parties trying to reduce the sovereignty of the Syrian state, and I speak here frankly and clearly about Iran and Turkey.”

Image result for UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, photos

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan

He was speaking at a news conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, whose country helps Assad militarily.

“If Iran and Turkey continue the same historical, colonial and competitive behavior and perspectives between them in Arab affairs, we will continue in this situation not just in Syria today but tomorrow in some other country,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

The six-year-old war in Syria has dragged in regional and international players who have sought to advance their interests there: Iran has sent troops and military support to shore up Assad’s rule as he has battled mostly Sunni Muslim rebels backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.

The Syrian army and its allies have regained lost territory with the help of Russian air strikes since 2015. At the same time, Islamic State is being pushed back from strongholds in Eastern Syria by the Syrian army and a rival offensive by Kurdish and Arab rebels backed by the United States.

Fearing expanded Kurdish influence along its border with Syria, U.S. ally Turkey has grown increasingly uneasy about the rebels’ armed thrust.

Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Lavrov and Sheikh Abdullah said they agreed on a need for a negotiated end to the war. Russia is helping shepherd talks in the Kazakh capital Astana which has already produced “de-escalation” zones to reduce combat in three parts of Syria.

Lavrov said Russia hoped that efforts to unify the positions of Syria’s disparate opposition would aid the peace process.

“There were some deep disagreements in the past which led to the failure of some meetings, but we will continue encouraging the participation of all the platforms,” he said through a translator.

(Reporting by Noah Browning Editing by William Maclean and Jeremy Gaunt)

Libyan Military Strongman Haftar Visiting Russia

August 12, 2017

MOSCOW — Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar was due to arrive in Moscow on Saturday ahead of a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, RIA news agency reported, citing a Russian negotiator.

Haftar is expected to meet Sergei Lavrov on Monday, Lev Dengov, head of the Russian contact group on Libya, told RIA. It was not immediately clear what the pair would be discussing.

At the end of July, Haftar and Libya’s Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj committed during talks in France to a conditional ceasefire and to elections, but a Italian naval mission aimed to help the country curb migrant flows has fueled tension this month.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army controls much of eastern and southern Libya.

It has rejected a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli that is struggling to assert authority over an array of armed factions which have been competing for control since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Haftar has held talks with Russian officials before and in January he was given a tour of a Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.

The head of the U.N.-backed government visited Moscow in March, and the Kremlin said then it wanted to help repair the damage it said had been done by Western involvement in the country.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alison Williams)

Tillerson says can settle problems with Russia, avoid damaging ties

August 7, 2017

Reuters

AUGUST 6, 2017 / 11:15 PM

MANILA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday said the United States wants to work with Russia and it was pointless to cut off ties over their disagreements.

Discussing a meeting he held on Sunday with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Tillerson told reporters that Russia had indicated “some willingness” to talk and find ways to move forward on the thorny issue of the Ukraine.

He said he saw U.S.-Russia relations pragmatically and believed problems could be addressed, and stressed to Lavrov that Russia needed to understand that meddling in elections was a very serious issue.

Reporting by Karen Lema; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Michael Perry

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Rex Tillerson meets for ‘lengthy’ talks with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov amid diplomatic crisis

Russia has removed some 750 American diplomats from their positions

By Emily Shugerman New York

The Independent

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he has engaged in “lengthy” talks with the US Secretary of State, and feels the US is ready to continue dialogue with Russia.

Mr Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Manila. It was the first conversation between the two men since the US imposed sanctions on Russia last week.

Mr Lavrov said Mr Tillerson was chiefly interested in the reduction of some 750 American diplomatic positions in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the move was a response to the US sanctions, and to former President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US earlier this year.

“I decided that it is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered,” Mr Putin said in a Russian state media interview.

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There has been confusion, however, over whether the US diplomats would be expelled from Russia, or simply removed from their positions.

“We provided an explanation,” Mr Lavrov said, but did not disclose details.

The US Congress overwhelmingly voted to imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the country’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.

Three US intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of releasing damaging information on Hillary Clinton and spreading false reports via social media in an attempt to bolster Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Federal investigators are also looking into whether Mr Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government in this effort.

Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!

Mr Trump signed his country’s sanctions into law begrudgingly last week, under intense pressure from legislators. In a statement, Mr Trump called the sanctions “seriously flawed,” and said he would only sign the bill for the sake of national unity.

The President, who has repeatedly pushed for better relations with Moscow, wrote: “We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.”

Later, Mr Trump declared US relations with Russia were at an “all-time low”.

Russia “fully shares” Trump’s view that relations are in dangerous condition after sanctions law passed, Kremlin spokesman told press today.

Mr Lavrov, recalling his discussions with Mr Tillerson, said he felt that the Americans “need to keep the dialogue open,” and added: “There’s no alternative to that.”

Mr Tillerson did not comment on the discussions.’

Mr Lavrov said the two men also discussed sending special representative Kurt Volker, the US envoy to Ukraine, on a visit to Moscow. Mr Volker travelled to Ukraine last month to assess the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists. The conflict is seen as a major obstacle to improved US-Russia relations in the US.

Mr Lavrov did not specify when Mr Volker would visit.

Mr Tillerson and Mr Lavrov also reportedly discussed the nuclear situation in North Korea, and how the US and Russia could withstand attacks.

They agreed that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Under Secretary Thomas A Shannon would continue the discussion.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/rex-tillerson-sergey-lavrov-russia-lengthy-talks-sanctions-association-of-southeast-asian-nations-a7880031.html

Tillerson Says World Breathes Easier As North Korea Action Taken in Peace

August 7, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi supported a tough stance on Pyongyang’s arsenal

MANILA (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday that a UN Security Council vote to impose sanctions on North Korea showed that world powers were united behind a push for a denuclearised Korean peninsula.Speaking at a security forum in Manila, Washington’s top diplomat said Kim Jong-Un’s regime must halt ballistic missile tests if it wanted to talk to the United States about resolving the standoff.

“It’s quite clear in terms of there being no daylight between the international community as to the expectation that North Korea will take steps to achieve all of my objectives, which is a denuclearised Korean peninsula,” he said.

On Sunday, Tillerson held separate talks in Manila with foreign ministers Wang Yi of China and Sergei Lavrov of Russia, both of whom he said were in support of a tough stance on Pyongyang’s arsenal.

While Wang called for a resumption of dialogue with North Korea, Tillerson insisted Kim must first stop the missile tests.

“The best signal that North Korea could send that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” he said, holding out the prospect of US envoys sitting down with Pyongyang’s isolated regime.

But he would not set a timeframe on when this might be possible or how long North Korea might have to refrain from testing more long-rang missiles.

“We’ll know it when we see it,” he told reporters.

“I’m not going to give someone a specific number of days or weeks. This is really about the spirit of these talks.

“And they can demonstrate that they are ready to sit in the spirit of finding their way forward in these talks by no longer conducting these missile tests.”

The UN Security Council on Saturday approved a US-drafted sanctions package against North Korea that could cost it $1 billion a year in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

This was in response to the North conducting two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month that Kim boasted showed he could strike any part of the United States.

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Tillerson Hails U.N. Sanctions, as Chinese Minister Rebukes North Korea at Asean Meeting

MANILA — A day after the United Nations Security Council passed its toughest sanctions against North Korea, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson met with his South Korean and Chinese counterparts here in hopes of ratcheting up pressure on Pyongyang.

In a midday conclave on Sunday with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha of South Korea, Mr. Tillerson hailed in his typically understated fashion the United Nations vote, which could cost North Korea nearly $1 billion a year, or about one-third of its foreign earnings.

“It was a good outcome,” Mr. Tillerson said with a smile.

Ms. Kang, sitting across the table from him, could not resist chiming in: “It was a very, very good outcome.”

Despite Mr. Tillerson’s obvious glee, though, the man of the moment here at the annual ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, was the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, a dashing diplomat who unlike Mr. Tillerson held a news conference and direct talks with Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong of North Korea.

Mr. Wang said the two had “an intensive conversation,” and in unusually strong terms, he later urged North Korea to show restraint.

“Do not violate the U.N.’s decision or provoke the international society’s good will by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests,” Mr. Wang said.

He also said, “Of course, we would like to urge other parties like the United States and South Korea to stop increasing tensions.”

A year ago, the Chinese were on their heels in this region. An international tribunal in The Hague last July delivered a sweeping rebuke of China’s behavior in the South China Sea, including its construction of artificial islands, finding that its expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

The case, brought against China by the Philippines, seemed like a turning point in China’s disputes with a host of regional players, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

A few months before that ruling, 12 nations in the Pacific region concluded more than seven years of negotiations by signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade agreement that bound much of Southeast Asia together with the United States and Japan in an economic partnership intended to fight China’s growing economic hegemony in the region.

While China had its own regional trade accord, the United States-led pact had become the preferred agreement, with several nations that had missed out on the initial round of negotiations expressing interest in joining in a second round.

How things have changed.

Read the rest:

Trump to sign Russia sanctions, Moscow retaliates

July 29, 2017

AFP and Reuters

© Nicholas Kamm / AFP | US President Donald Trump arrives at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, New York July 28, 2017 to deliver remarks on law enforcement at Suffolk Community College at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, New York.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-07-29

U.S. President Donald Trump will sign legislation that imposes sanctions on Russia, after Moscow ordered the United States to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff and said it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties in retaliation.

The U.S. Senate had voted almost unanimously on Thursday to slap new sanctions on Russia, forcing Trump to choose between a tough position on Moscow and effectively dashing his stated hopes for warmer ties with the country or to veto the bill amid investigations in possible collusion between his campaign and Russia.

By signing the bill into law, Trump cannot ease the sanctions against Russia unless he seeks congressional approval.

Moscow’s retaliation, announced by the Foreign Ministry on Friday, had echoes of the Cold War. If confirmed that Russia’s move would affect hundreds of staff at the U.S. embassy, it would far outweigh the Obama administration’s expulsion of 35
Russians in December.

The legislation was in part a response to conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies that  Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election , and to further punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Late on Friday, the White House issued a statement saying Trump would sign the bill after reviewing the final version. The statement made no reference to Russia’s retaliatory measures.

Russia had been threatening retaliation for weeks. Its response suggests it has set aside initial hopes of better ties with Washington under Trump, something the U.S. leader, before he was elected, had said he wanted to achieve.

Relations were already languishing at a post-Cold War low because of the allegations that Russian cyber interference in the election was intended to boost Trump’s chances, something Moscow flatly denies. Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry complained of growing anti-Russian feeling in the United States, accusing “well-known circles” of seeking “open confrontation”.

President Vladimir Putin had warned on Thursday that Russia would have to retaliate against what he called boorish U.S. behaviour. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Friday that the Senate vote was the last straw.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by telephone that Russia was ready to normalise relations with the United States and to cooperate on major global issues.

Lavrov and Tillerson “agreed to maintain contact on a range of bilateral issues”, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry said the United States had until Sept. 1 to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia to 455 people, the number of Russian diplomats left in the United States after Washington expelled 35 Russians in December.

‘Extreme aggression’

It was not immediately clear how many U.S. diplomats and other workers would be forced to leave either the country or their posts, but the Interfax news agency cited an informed source as saying “hundreds” of people would be affected.

A diplomatic source told Reuters that it would be for the United States to decide which posts to cut, whether occupied by U.S. or Russian nationals.

An official at the U.S. Embassy, who declined to be named because they were not allowed to speak to the media, said the Embassy employed around 1,100 diplomatic and support staff in Russia, including Russian and U.S. citizens.

Russian state television channel Rossiya 24 said over 700 staff would be affected but that was not confirmed by the foreign ministry or the U.S. embassy.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement said the passage of the bill confirmed “the extreme aggression of the United States in international affairs”.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met outgoing U.S. ambassador John Tefft on Friday to inform him of the counter measures, Russian news agencies reported. The U.S. Embassy said Tefft had expressed his “strong disappointment and protest”.

Most U.S. diplomatic staff, including around 300 U.S. citizens, work in the main embassy in Moscow, with others based in consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was also seizing a Moscow dacha compound used by U.S. diplomats for recreation, from Aug. 1, as well as a U.S. diplomatic warehouse in Moscow.

In December, the outgoing Obama administration seized two Russian diplomatic compounds – one in New York and another in Maryland – at the same time as it expelled Russian diplomats.

Trump and Putin met for the first time at a G20 summit in Germany this month in what both sides described as a productive encounter, but Russian officials have become increasingly convinced that Congress and Trump’s political opponents will not
allow him to mend ties, even if he wants to.

The European Union has also threatened to retaliate against new U.S. sanctions on Russia, saying they would harm the bloc’s energy security by targeting projects including a planned new pipeline to bring Russian natural gas to northern Europe.

A European Commission spokesman in Brussels said the bloc would be following the sanctions process closely.

(REUTERS)

http://www.france24.com/en/trump-sign-us-sanctions-russia-putin-moscow-retaliates-seizes-property-demands-diplomatic-staff-redu

Trump and Putin Met for Second Time at G-20 — An “extraordinarily important meeting.”

July 19, 2017

Previously undisclosed conversation took place on sidelines of gathering of world leaders in Germany

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month.PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a second, previously undisclosed talk on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, a White House official said Tuesday.

The conversation took place on the same day that the two leaders met earlier for more than two hours in what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called an “extraordinarily important meeting.”

The White House disclosed the conversation after it was reported by Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a political risk advisory group. He wrote about the meeting in a company newsletter and spoke about it in a television interview Tuesday.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and text

 Ian Bremmer

The two leaders spoke during a state dinner for the world leaders and their spouses.

The White House official said Mr. Trump spoke with many leaders during the dinner and said the president “spoke briefly” with Mr. Putin, who was seated next to first lady Melania Trump, toward the end of the evening.

Mr. Bremmer said the two spoke for about an hour, joined by Mr. Putin’s translator.

The White House official said Messrs. Trump and Putin used the Russian translator because the American translator accompanying Mr. Trump spoke only English and Japanese. Mr. Trump had been seated next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd,” the White House official said. “It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”

In the meeting earlier in the day, Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Putin on what the intelligence community says was an extensive campaign by the Russian government to meddle in last year’s election. Mr. Trump told him that Americans are upset about Russia’s actions and want them to stop, Mr. Tillerson told reporters in a briefing. Mr. Putin denied that Russia played a role, and the two leaders agreed not to “relitigate” the past, Mr. Tillerson said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was also in the meeting, told reporters afterward that Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Putin’s contention that Russia didn’t interfere in the campaign.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bremmer said he learned about the second Trump-Putin talk from participants at the dinner, which was attended only by world leaders and their spouses.

Mr. Bremmer said the participants described the talk as “very animated” and “very friendly.”

Mr. Trump said it was already known that he would be attending a dinner with the Russian president and 18 other world leaders. “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick,’” he tweeted Tuesday evening. “All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”

The dinner was closed to the news media, and White House officials hadn’t provided details of the president’s interactions during the event before Tuesday.

The news that Mr. Trump had a talk with Mr. Putin that the White House didn’t initially disclose comes as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and whether Trump associates colluded with Moscow in that effort.

Mr. Trump has expressed skepticism about U.S. intelligence agencies’ consensus that Russia sought to meddle in the election, saying days before his meeting with Mr. Putin, “Nobody knows for sure.” He has repeatedly denied any collusion by his campaign.

Since his meeting with Mr. Putin, the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has released an email chain showing that he helped arrange a meeting last June to discuss allegedly damaging information about former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In that email chain, the younger Mr. Trump was told that the information was gathered as part of a Russian government effort to help his father.

Also on Tuesday, the White House announced its intent to formally nominate Jon Huntsman —former governor of Utah and ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush and to China under President Barack Obama —as ambassador to Russia.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 19, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump, Putin Held Second Talk at G-20.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-and-putin-met-for-second-time-at-g-20-white-house-says-1500419605

Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters: NYT

May 24, 2017

Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Nick Macfie)