Saturday, July 8, 2017
First lady Melania Trump sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a banquet for G20 leaders and spouses Friday during the Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
President Donald Trump sat away from his wife and next to Juliana Awada, the wife of Argentina’s president. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brigitte Macron, wife of the French president, sat across the table from President Trump.
Nikki Schwab, writing at the Daily Mail, notes, “With the day’s business out of the way, the leaders enjoyed a concert and then a Friday night dinner, in which couples were split up and not seated with their spouses.”
“That’s how Melania Trump ended up next to Putin,” Schwab said. “The first lady, who grew up in Slovenia, then a part of Yugoslavia, knows several languages including German, which the Russian president also speaks.”
The president and Putin had their first face-to-face meeting Thursday at the Summit, where they spoke privately for more than two hours.
Trump raised the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, where Putin denied any involvement in the meddling.
“They had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.
“The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past,” he said.
During the private meeting Friday, Trump and Putin struck an agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, making it Trump’s first U.S.-Russian pact to quell Syria’s six-year civil war.
The cease-fire goes into effect Sunday, according to U.S. officials and the Jordanian government, who are involved in the deal.
“It’s a very complicated part of the Syrian battlefield,” Tillerson said of the area near the border with Jordan that is affected by the agreement.
“I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria,” Tillerson added.
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