Just one day after skipping a World War I memorial service outside Paris due to bad weather, for which President Donald Trump invited a lot of criticism, he will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at a working lunch on Sunday, November 11.
According to a news report by Reuters, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov announced on Wednesday that the lunch will take place in the Elysee Palace in Paris. Though it will be a short lunch, the two leaders are expected to have a longer meeting at a summit of the Group of 20 nations in Argentina toward the end of November.
The reason the Trumps cancelled their memorial service visit has not been clear, because the cemetery is located only 50 miles from Paris. Per a report by the Washington Post, there is a probability that Mr. Trump was planning to travel on Marine One, which is sometimes grounded by the Secret Service.
However, many foreign policy experts believe that the American president wasn’t “up for it” because other dignitaries — including the Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron — visited other sites outside Paris despite the bad weather.
David Frum, who served as a speechwriter to President George W. Bush, criticized President Trump’s move in his tweets for not attending the memorial service, per the Washington Post.
“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.”
And now that he will have lunch with Putin despite earlier calling it off, there are chances that Trump will invite more criticism. On Twitter, people have already started showing their anger.
Oh how nice. Veteran's Day and he's meeting with the Russians. I know it would be too much to suggest, but do you think he could have spent time visiting our Vets in hospitals or visit WWI Memorial?
— Katy Alexander (@AlexanderKaty) November 7, 2018
For the past month, it wasn’t clear whether the two leaders would be meeting in Paris or not, and per a report by the Washington Examiner, journalists and Russian experts were confused because of the series of on-again, off-again reports about the upcoming meeting.
“Russians do want to meet, but Trump — the president of chaos — wants to keep things interesting, for us to keep guessing, as he always does,” according to Nina Khrushcheva, an international affairs expert and granddaughter of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
She further added that “it is Trump, the showman, who has Putin, the spy man, where he wants him, not the other way around.”
The report further said that a meeting between Trump and Putin was first confirmed on October 23 at the time when U.S. national security adviser John Bolton visited Moscow. He said that President Trump would “look forward to meeting with Putin in France.”
Last week, however, Bolton indicated that the meeting between the two leaders will “likely to be brief, ” but on Monday, November 5, President Trump said that he will “probably not” have a meeting with Putin. On Wednesday, the Kremlin aide confirmed that a “short working lunch” will finally take place.
The Washington Examiner report also quoted the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, as saying that he “wouldn’t read too much into” the rescheduling of the meeting because President Trump has already expressed his interest in holding a longer and more detailed talk with his Russian counterpart during the G-20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month.
“While Bolton, when he was in Moscow, agreed to the meeting in Paris, scheduling it proved difficult because of Macron’s sensitivity about Trump and Putin diverting attention from the elaborate WWI events. Since the G-20 is just a few weeks away, Buenos Aires seems to be the more practical choice, and they will not have a formal sit-down in Paris.”
Speaking from his Russian perspective, Vershbow further added that the “working lunch” could probably mean that “Trump and Putin are scheduled to sit next to each other among a broader group of world leaders,” the report said.