Trump, Putin Meeting Shifts from Discourse to Discord
Albanian Daily News
Published July 8, 2017
The challenge for President Donald Trump heading into his biggest diplomatic gut check yet was to hold his own with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The stakes in one of the most eagerly awaited diplomatic showdowns in years were obvious as soon as they appeared before the cameras.
Trump, the rookie politician, sat solidly in his chair, with his jaw set, not looking completely at ease, with his fingers set in a triangle in front of his lap.
"It's an honor to be with you," Trump told Putin as he shook his counterpart's hand, after telling reporters they were having "very, very" good talks.
Putin, the global power player and master of the body language of the mano-a-mano photo op, adopted his usual, inscrutable expression, but nevertheless said he was "delighted" to meet Trump, at last in person.
Such is the opacity with which both sides deal with the media, that it may be months before the real winner of Friday's showdown in Germany will be known.
But each side came away from the talks between their two alpha dog leaders, at the G20 summit, with some of their goals satisfied.
Trump sought to ease political angst back home by raising the issue of alleged Russian interference in last year's election -- amid accusations from US intelligence agencies that Moscow conspired to help him win office.
Both sides could hold up an agreement, along with Jordan, to back a ceasefire in southwest Syria as a down payment on future anti-terrorism cooperation.
The progress was important to Trump, because it gave him a dividend to justify his often expressed view that he could make deals with Putin and improve US-Russia relations.
The thorny issue of Russia's seizure of Crimea and its activities in Ukraine was addressed by the agreement of both sides on the appointment of respected former NATO ambassador Kurt Volker to be the US special envoy to the conflict.
Putin, whose political project is rooted in a desire to restore Moscow's lost influence, respect and role as an integral player in global power politics, got to sit down, side-by-side, with an American leader for the first time in two years.
And from both sides, there was talk of a connection between Trump and Putin, and the hope that the relations between the world's two biggest nuclear powers, that have spiraled dangerously to their worst state since the Cold War, may at least have stabilized.