Trump’s private meeting with Putin

The meeting at the G20 summit on July 7 was unplanned and lasted an hour. Mr Putin’s translator was the only person who witnessed the event, so we are left with no record of the conversation. Julianne Smith explains why this is dangerous.

[I]nternational summits are not wedding receptions. World leaders do not wander from table to table, making small talk. Summits and the meals accompanying them are highly choreographed and scripted events and for good reason. ….

For one reason or another, while he was at the G20 dinner, Mr Trump decided that, irrespective of what his team had spent months planning, he would disregard both their guidance and standard protocol and meet Mr Putin for a second time. ….

Most troubling is that … [meeting without] an American translator … gave the Russians a huge advantage. It enabled Mr Putin to say things he might not have said in the presence of his own staff or Mr Trump’s. ….

Equally troubling was the fact that the meeting lasted an hour, which means it was neither happenstance nor a brief pull aside. …. Did Mr Trump, with his notorious pro-Russian views, promise to lift sanctions, give up on Ukraine or ignore Russia’s human rights abuses at home? We will never know.

…. It [also] sent a clear signal about how much the US values Russia, a signal that Mr Putin certainly relished.

Julianne Smith, “Putting aside protocol spells danger for Donald Trump”, Financial Times, 21 July 2017 (gated paywall).

Ms Smith is a former US Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice-President Joseph Biden and former Principal Director of European/Nato Policy at The Pentagon.

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