US President Donald Trump joked today about Moscow’s alleged electoral interference during a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and softened his criticism of traditional US allies. during the first day of the G20 summit in Osaka.
Two days after lashing out in an interview against Japan, Germany and Vietnam, Trump assumed a diplomatic tone when meeting the leaders of those countries, while reinforcing his warm relationship with Putin and with the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
“A lot of very positive things are going to come out of the relationship” with Russia, Trump predicted at the beginning of his meeting with Putin.
The appointment had a slight tone of celebration, because it was the first between them since the special prosecutor who was investigating in the USA. The alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Robert Mueller, will close his investigation and conclude that there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
When a journalist asked Trump if he planned to ask Putin not to try to influence the outcome of the 2020 elections, in which re-election is played, Trump responded immediately: “Yes, of course, I will.”
Then he turned slightly to Putin, but without looking into his eyes, and said with a smile and a sneer: “Do not get involved in the elections, President, do not get involved in the elections”.
The anecdote demonstrated once again the affinity that Trump feels for Putin, but it did not unleash the same degree of controversy as the last meeting between the two, almost a year ago in Helsinki, when the US leader questioned the conclusions of his own agencies. intelligence about Russian interference.
The chemistry between the two did not, however, erase the tensions between their governments regarding Venezuela, Iran, Syria and Ukraine; issues that marked part of their dialogue, according to the White House.
One month before the US withdrawal becomes effective of the agreement on INF missiles with Russia, Trump and Putin agreed to negotiate a new “arms control model”, and the American insisted that this possible pact “must include China”.
Trump also felt comfortable with Bolsonaro, whom he described as “a very special man” in the second meeting between the two since the right-wing leader came to power in January.
Five months after recognizing the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela, Trump called for patience to overthrow the president Nicolás Maduro, saying that “things take time.”
The two leaders evaluated measures to cut “the financial support of all countries that help Venezuela,” Bolsonaro spokesman Otávio Rego Barros told a news conference.
Earlier in the day, Trump met with the host of the G20 summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, two days after criticizing the defense treaty with Japan.
But both Trump and Abe avoided any reference to the American’s claim that, if the United States were attacked, the Japanese would not be forced to respond and would see what happened “on a Sony television.”
Trump had also denounced, in a tweet on Thursday, the “unacceptable” decision of India to impose new tariffs on the US, but today said that the bilateral relationship “will remain good” when meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sitting shortly after the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Trump described her as his “friend” and “a fantastic woman” after having assured, in his interview on Wednesday with Fox Business, that Germany was a “defaulter” in your payments to NATO.
And the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, approached him during the working lunch to speak far from any microphone, possibly on Trump’s accusation in the interview that Vietnam is “the most abused country” in the US. and his suggestion that he could impose tariffs.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard also greeted Trump and photographed himself with him, weeks after their governments reached an immigration agreement to stop the imposition of levies on Mexico.
But the commercial battle that everyone had in mind in Osaka is the one that has faced the US since last year. and China, and Trump predicted that his meeting this Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping will be “productive” and “exciting.”
Although it did not provoke great controversies, Trump did not have the whole mind at the G20 summit, and took advantage of any free time to follow on television or Twitter the second debate among the aspiring Democrats to seize power in 2020.
“I am delighted to spend time with you instead of seeing you (the debate),” Trump said in an unconvincing tone during his meeting with Merkel.