President Donald Trump said Friday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed "various things" and he anticipates future developments that are beneficial to both countries.
“I look forward to a lot of positive things happening for Russia and the United States,” Trump said at the beginning of his first official face-to-face meeting with Putin, a formal bilateral discussion that is overshadowing the gathering in Hamburg, Germany, of the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies.
The meeting is fraught with symbolism as Trump, still new to the world of global diplomacy, sits down with Putin, a former KGB agent, who came to power in what amounted to a Kremlin coup 17 years ago. Putin has a reputation for keeping negotiating partners off balance.
Observers are closely scrutinizing the meeting for signs of how the two leaders interact. Relations between Putin and former President Barack Obama were strained, and Trump repeatedly has said he would like to improve ties with Russia.
There is skepticism in the U.S. about Russia's intentions, primarily as a result of ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia as it interfered in last November’s U.S. presidential election. Trump aides said the president might bring up the election-meddling issue, but he is not likely to dwell on it.
Lawmakers in both political parties have said Trump must confront Putin over the election interference. Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee member Adam Kinzinger said this week he would “raise holy hell” if Trump does not tell Putin that Russia must stop meddling in elections in the U.S. and elsewhere.
At an earlier stop in Poland, Trump accused Moscow of engaging in destabilizing behavior.
"We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself," he said.
Russia denied the charges.
The U.S. leader had other meetings scheduled with the leaders of Mexico and Britain on Friday.
Trump was also to join a discussion on climate, an issue driving many of the protesters who took to the streets of Hamburg again on the first day of the summit.
Protesters aim to disrupt
Leftist demonstrators were out in force again Friday, forming human chains to block access by delegations to the summit site. Riot police moved in and used water cannons to disperse the protesters.
German officials had been anticipating big protests in the city in the run-up to the two-day gathering and have deployed 20,000 officers, including some brought in from other European countries.
Police officials said 8,000 demonstrators were already in the city, and they were expecting a second wave of demonstrations on Friday afternoon.
Officials said protests were expected to peak on Saturday, with as many as 100,000 protesters descending on the streets of the city.
Protesters have set up camps in central Hamburg where they have been sleeping in tents and lining up for free vegan meals.
Most demonstrators approached by a reporter at two camps were reluctant to be interviewed. “People are really suspicious about the media. They feel that the media is more against us than with us, that the media is more with the G-20 and not with the protests and that makes people suspicious,” a demonstrator told VOA.
The protesters’ aim is to disrupt the G-20 summit.Most support leftist and anarchist causes and see the grouping as a gathering of the world’s wealthy elite who they blame for global economic disparities.Their target is largely President Trump, and many said they are outraged by his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.
The demonstrators, who are largely German, also took aim at Chancellor Angela Merkel.“She is representing all the connections and all the work with lobbyists, with the automobile industries, with the war industries. She is also representative for lobbyism, for capitalism,” said a demonstrator.