Trump and Putin Meet Face-to-Face for the First Time at G20 in Hamburg as Protests Continue

• “It’s an honor to be with you,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Putin in public remarks before their closed-door meeting. “I’m delighted to meet you,” the Russian leader replied.

• The larger gathering of the world’s leading economies will focus on high-profile issues like climate change, global trade, North Korea, Syria and Ukraine.

• Tens of thousands of protesters were expected to turn out in the host city, after a demonstration Thursday night, called “Welcome to Hell,” turned violent. Both the police and demonstrators reported injuries, and cars were set on fire.

• Mr. Trump wants the United States to wield its economic dominance to dictate the rules of global trade, but other countries seem unwilling to follow. As if to make that point, the European Union and Japan agreed on Thursday to the outlines of a trade deal that would diminish opportunities for American companies.

• The United States, Japan and South Korea — but not China — called for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s long-range missile launch, and for accelerated sanctions to pressure Pyongyang.

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All eyes were on Trump and Putin.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin met on Friday, and while their face-to-face encounter was not officially the main event at the G-20, for many, it might as well have been. Scores of journalists shouted questions as the two leaders sat side by side for photographs before the actual meeting.

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well,” Mr. Trump said. “We look forward to a lot of very positive happenings for Russia and for the United States, and for everyone concerned.”

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Mr. Putin said he was happy to have the chance to meet Mr. Trump in person. “We spoke over the phone,” he said, “but phone conversations are never enough, definitely.”

He added: “I hope that, as you have said, our meetings will yield positive results.”

Only six people attended the meeting: Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson; Mr. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov; and two interpreters.

The Russians had agitated to include several more staff members in the meeting, but Mr. Trump’s team had insisted that the meeting be kept small to avoid leaks and competing accounts later, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the carefully choreographed meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity around the matter.

Even a brief handshake earlier in the day, before the proceedings officially opened, was the subject of enormous scrutiny.

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The leaders have little obvious common ground.
In Warsaw, where he gave a speech on Thursday before flying to Hamburg, Mr. Trump delivered a mixed message on Russia. He urged it to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine,” and denounced its support for “hostile regimes,” including Iran and Syria, and offered unqualified support for the collective defense principle of NATO.

At the same time, he broke with American intelligence agencies by saying he was not entirely convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election.

In Moscow, there was a sense that Mr. Putin will be able to outwit and outmaneuver the American leader and come out on top. “It is a win-win situation for Putin,” said Andrei V. Kolesnikov, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, though it will not be all smooth sailing for Mr. Putin.

The two leaders find themselves on opposite sides of several important issues, including climate change and Western sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea. The Kremlin is also rankled by a missile defense system that the United States is building in Eastern Europe.

They might find some common ground on counterterrorism. But in Syria, Moscow is backing President Bashar al-Assad, while Washington still wants to see him step down.

Protesters got an early start. So did the police.
Hamburg awoke on Friday to the buzz of helicopters and the wailing of sirens, as police officers rushed to keep up with protesters who had gathered at the city’s major intersections in an effort to block the routes G-20 leaders were to take to the Messehallen Convention Center, the site of the meeting.

Protesters burned several vehicles and set fire to trash hauling bins overnight, and columns of smoke could be seen rising over the city again early Friday. Taxi drivers were avoiding the city center, some in protest, others to protect their vehicles.

“We remind you that gatherings in the transit corridors will not be tolerated,” the police said on Twitter. The authorities used water cannons to stop the protesters from advancing.

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The police presence was enormous near the convention center. In black riot gear including helmets, padding and sometimes face masks, the police stood in small groups in a quiet face-off with civilians who might or might not have been demonstrators. The authorities have said that 20,000 police officers would be deployed.

Many streets in and around the city center — which is famous for its extreme left-wing scene — were blocked to ordinary traffic, though nearby public transport stations were open, albeit with increased security patrols.

Demonstrations Thursday night turned violent after the police moved in to separate a group wearing balaclavas and masks — which German law forbids during public protests — in a section of the 12,000 people who had filled the streets outside the security perimeter.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Melissa Eddy and Steven Erlanger

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