Trump cancels meeting with Putin at G20 over Ukraine crisis

Minnie Murray
December 3, 2018

The Kremlin on Thursday said it was surprised to learn that a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump had been cancelled via a tweet. He said he would wait for the results of a report from his national security team before deciding. "Yes, indeed, the talks haven't taken place, but this doesn't mean that we ceased all contacts", Putin said during a December 1 press conference in Argentina.

The Putin meeting - a continuation of a controversial summit between the two in July - was just one of a series of high-stakes items on Trump's agenda, which also includes talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on how to ease a rising trade war.

'They exchanged pleasantries at the leaders session as he did with almost every leader in attendance, ' a senior White House official said on background.

The spokesman said Putin had explained the situation in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in their meetings in Buenos Aires, but Trump missed the opportunity.

"I think we're very close to doing something with China, but I don't know that I want to do it", Trump told reporters.

The head of state added that he had already seen the message of US President Donald Trump on Twitter, where he said that he had made a decision to cancel the meeting with Putin if he did not respond to the request to release the sailors.

The Russian interpretation of the cancellation, however, echoed that of some of Trump's critics at home, who noted the move came amid new challenges for Trump in the probe into Russia's alleged role in his 2016 election campaign.

Merkel said she had also discussed Syria with Putin, "especially. the Idlib region", where a fragile ceasefire has been negotiated between rebels and Syrian army forces backed by Moscow. Focus will also be on any encounters between Britain's Theresa May and Trump who's trashed her Brexit deal as "good" for the European Union, not for Britain.

"I answered his questions about the incident in the Black Sea".

The Ukrainians reject Russian insistence that they use a Russian pilot, saying it is not required by a 2003 agreement on sharing the waterway, and is a recently imposed means of controlling Ukrainian access.

Ukraine has also imposed restrictions on entry for foreigners into Crimea, and the European Court of Human Rights said that Kyiv has filed a complaint against Russian Federation over the maritime confrontation.

Trump has accused China of rampant theft of United States technology and demanded that the emerging power end its requirements that foreign companies team up with local partners.

Friday's version entailed Putin drawing a map of the Kerch Strait to buttress his position that the Ukrainian ships his navy seized had intruded into Russian waters - a claim denied by Kiev.

The Ukrainian Navy said that it had informed Russian Federation in advance about the passage of Ukrainian vessels from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait.

A White House official said the president and the prince did "exchange pleasantries" after the leaders met after they had their photo taken.

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