United States President Donald Trump pressed Vladimir Putin at their first meeting for the Russian president on Friday about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, Channels reports.
The Russian president has denied any meddling in the U.S. democratic process last year and Moscow has asked for proof that it took place.
One analyst called the meeting a “big political win” for Putin, but said both leaders benefitted from the exchange.
“I think Putin comes away from it having very clearly demonstrated that he broke the U.S. imposed isolation policy,” said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
“For Trump, I don’t think he broke out of the constraints he’s on with respect to Russia policy here in Washington,” he added. “On the other hand, this, as some commentators have said, may have been his most substantive, significant international meeting yet.”
Trump promised a rapprochement with Moscow during his campaign for the presidency last year. But he has been unable to deliver on that pledge because his administration has been dogged by investigations into the allegations of Russian interference in the election and ties between his campaign and Moscow. Trump says his team did not collude with Russia.
Speaking on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Hamburg, Tillerson said the two leaders “had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject. The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement”.
The face-to-face encounter was one of the most eagerly anticipated meetings between two leaders in years.
The meeting lasted more than two hours and U.S. first lady Melania Trump came in at one point to urge them to conclude, Tillerson said.
Washington and Moscow also announced after the meeting that the United States, Russia and Jordan have reached a ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” in southwestern Syria, one of the combat zones in a six-year-old civil war.
The ceasefire will go into effect at noon Damascus time (0900 GMT) on Sunday, U.S. and Russian officials said.