White House: Trump, Putin Held Second 'Brief Conversation' At G-20

Jul 18, 2017
Originally published on July 18, 2017 8:32 pm

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

In addition to a formal meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month, the two leaders held a separate, private conversation that has not been previously disclosed, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday.

On July 7, the two leaders held a formal two-hour meeting in which Trump later said that his Russian counterpart had denied any interference in the 2016 election.

However, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday that Trump and Putin also spoke during a world leaders' dinner at the G-20 later the same day. He did not say how long the conversation lasted or what was discussed.

The administration's acknowledgment of the second informal meeting comes after Ian Bremmer, the president of political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group, first reported the meeting. He was told of conversation by other world leaders who were present.

Speaking on NPR's All Things Considered, Bremmer said the discussion lasted about an hour and was unsettling to many of the other leaders present.

Bremmer's sources said the conversation was "very warm and friendly. It was extremely animated. There were a lot of hand gestures, gesticulations, that sort of thing."

"They were close," Bremmer tells NPR. "Much closer to each other than Trump is to any of his allies. Which is why, I think, they found it disconcerting."

"It was a second meeting that occurred in front of all these leaders who are publicly and privately questioning their relationship with their American ally," Bremmer says.

Speaking on background, a White House official denied that there was a "second meeting," describing it instead as a "brief conversation at the end of dinner."

"The insinuation that the White House has tried to 'hide' a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd," the official said.

National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton described the conversation as a "pull-aside," adding that: "A conversation over dessert should not be characterized as a meeting."

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