HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — President Donald Trump voiced optimism that there are “very positive things” in store for the United States and Russia as he sat down with President Vladimir Putin for an historic first meeting.
Seated next to Putin on the sidelines of an economic summit in Germany, Trump said it was “an honor” to be with Putin. As journalists were briefly allowed in to witness part of the meeting, Trump said that he and Putin had already held “very, very good talks.”
“We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia and the United States,” Trump said.
Trump offered no details about what issues he and the Russian leader had discussed, describing them only as “various things.” Putin was similarly vague, telling reporters through a translator that they were discussing international problems and bilateral issues.
Still, Putin described the fact that they were meeting as a positive sign in itself.
“Phone conversation is never enough,” Putin said. He said he hoped the meeting would “yield positive results.”
With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his side, Trump sat in front of an American flag with his hands clasped together in triangle formation. Putin, slightly hunched in his chair, rubbed his fingers together as he listened to Trump address reporters. His foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, sat nearby.
The highly anticipated meeting is the first between Trump and Putin, taking place under the shadow of U.S. outrage about Russian election-meddling and nagging questions about potential Trump campaign collusion. The White House had said there was no set agenda for the session, although Tillerson said the Syria war would be a key topic.
(ABC NEWS) – President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shook hands and exchanged greetings at the G-20 summit in Germany ahead of their high-stakes meeting later today, according to the Kremlin’s press secretary.
An official German government Facebook page posted a video of the two leaders briefly meeting and shaking hands, with President Trump patting Putin on the back.
Trump’s first bilateral meeting as president with the Russian leader will come later today. The two heads of state have held three phones calls. According to an administration official, Trump and Putin will be joined at the meeting by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and two translators.
The White House has said no agenda has been set for the discussion, but topics that are likely to come up include Syria and Ukraine. What’s unclear is if Trump will reprimand Russia for its alleged hacking in the 2016 U.S. election and European elections.
Yesterday, in a press conference on foreign soil, President Trump questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and insisted “nobody really knows.”
“I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries,” Trump said as he took questions during the press conference in Poland.
Trump also was tough on former President Obama, saying his predecessor “choked” and “did nothing” when he found out in August 2016 about Russia’s cyber operation to disrupt the 2016 election.
The meeting between Trump and Putin in Hamburg, Germany, today comes as back home in the U.S., Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the U.S. election and whether there was any collusion between Trump’s campaign associates and Russia.
ABC News’ Marcus Wilford and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.