Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met in private on Friday for a talk scheduled to last 30 minutes.
More than two hours later, the two finally emerged from a private room, and it’s not clear exactly what they talked about for so long.
The two world leaders had their much-anticipated in-person meeting during the G20 summit in Germany; one that comes in the wake of Russia’s reported interference in the 2016 presidential election.
There were no cameras inside the meeting itself, and reports that Trump insisted that the meeting remains as private as possible to avoid leaks about the matters discussed. The meeting included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and two interpreters, The Hill reported.
It was not immediately clear what Trump and Putin discussed during the meeting, but Putin said afterward that they touched on the war in Syria, Ukraine, fighting terrorism, and cyber security.
The two appeared to be chummy leading to the meeting. Before starting the meeting, the two world leaders shared a warm handshake and pat on the back. Trump told Putin that it was “an honor to be with you.”
“I’m delighted to meet you,’ Putin replied (via The Hill).
Many had hoped that Donald Trump would use the meeting to press Vladimir Putin on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a charge made by American intelligence agencies but denied by Russia. In the lead-up to the meeting, Trump appeared to hedge on the claim that Russia alone was responsible for the election interference.
In remarks to reporters on the eve of the meeting, Trump claimed that no one knows for sure if Russia interfered and that other countries could have as well.
That claim led to some immediate pushback, with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper saying there was no evidence that anyone but Russia interfered in the election.
“As far as others doing this, well that’s new to me,” Clapper said in an appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room (via The Hill).
In their meeting, both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin missed a G20 session discussing climate change and energy. Trump has been widely criticized for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, which pledged the United States to reduce carbon emissions.
[Featured Image by Steffen Kugler /BPA via Getty Images]