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White House, Kremlin play down 'secret' talks

China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-21 09:38

WASHINGTON - The White House and Kremlin on Wednesday played down the significance of an additional, previously undisclosed meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin during this month's G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The two powers united in their condemnation of reports questioning why the meeting was not disclosed.

"Once again, the Russia fever has caught up with the media and everybody ran out and tried to create a story that simply didn't exist," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

That message was echoed by her Kremlin counterpart Dmitry Peskov. "The use of the terms 'secret' or 'confidential' for this meeting provokes absolute surprise and incomprehension."

White House, Kremlin play down 'secret' talks

The meeting had been "officially accepted" by diplomatic channels, he added in comments reported by the Russia's TASS news agency.

"There was no secret and confidential meeting," he said. "To say so is absolutely absurd."

Trump said on Wednesday that his second conversation with Putin was an exchange of "pleasantries" that lasted 15 minutes.

Speaking to The New York Times, Trump said that his wife, Melania, was seated next to Putin at the other end of a table at a couples-only social dinner during the summit. When the meal was going toward dessert, he approached Melania to "say hello" and then exchanged "pleasantries" with Putin.

Trump said he and Putin talked about the issue of adoptions between Russia and US.

After a brief greeting at the start of the two-day summit and a two-hour bilateral meeting with their foreign ministers on July 7, Trump and Putin also chatted over dinner on the final night of the summit, a US official said on Tuesday.

The White House confirmed the political sensitive sit-down only after it was leaked.

That raised questions about what the pair talked about, who was present and why the meeting was not previously mentioned.

The Trump administration has been besieged by allegations that the his advisers allegedly colluded with Russia to win the election.

Trump took to Twitter to blast the suggestion that there was anything improper about his dinner chat with Putin.

At the dinner in Hamburg, Trump was seated between the wife of the prime minister of Japan and the wife of the president of Argentina. US first lady Melania Trump was seated next to Putin.

According to a US official, "during the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely".

"President Trump spoke with many leaders during the course of the evening. As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin."

Afp - Xinhua

White House, Kremlin play down 'secret' talks

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