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No Meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin at APEC

Nov. 10, 2017 (EIRNS)—A formal meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Putin did not occur at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam today. Instead, President Trump stopped on his way to his assigned spot for the group photo, climbed up the risers, stood next to President Putin, shook hands and put his left hand on President Putin’s shoulder, and with both Presidents smiling broadly, engaged in a hearty handshake.

The White House said yesterday that the seemingly planned encounter would not occur due to "scheduling conflicts," while Moscow said the leaders would meet "one way or another."

After hearing the White House comments, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed irritation, saying,

"We have heard the willingness of U.S. President Trump to meet with President Putin, which was expressed by Trump himself. I don’t know what his other pen-pushers are saying; ask them."

Trump told Fox News last week that he might meet with Russian President Putin, because "Again—Putin is very important because they can help us with North Korea. They can help us with Syria. We have to talk about Ukraine," RT reported today.

The first meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July was described by both sides as productive. RT further reminds its readers that as a result of that meeting, Russia and the United States reached a "breakthrough" ceasefire deal on Syria announced shortly after the Presidents’ meeting.

Yesterday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pressed on whether a meeting would occur, dampened the prospect by telling journalists

"The question is, whether we’ve got sufficient substance.... [A]nd the view has been if the two leaders are going to meet, is there something sufficiently substantive to talk about that would warrant a formal meeting.... Otherwise, we’ll just keep working it,"

RT reported Tillerson’s response.

Although the Trump meeting did not come off, Putin did meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and with Chinese President Xi Jinping, among others. Putin stressed to Xi that strategic relations with China remain a Russian foreign policy priority, and Xi vowed to continue cooperation at the highest level, "shoulder to shoulder with our Russian partners."