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President Trump today condemned reports of a second previously undisclosed meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit as “sick” and “dishonest”.
He attacked media revelations of an one-hour dinner meeting amid accusations he was cozying up with Mr Putin as his administration is being probed for possible ties with Russian meddling in the US election.
The conversation, confirmed by the White House, happened during a G-20 dinner for world leaders, hours after the US and Russian presidents held a formal meeting on the sidelines of the summit in Hamburg earlier this month.
At some point during the meal, Mr Trump is said to have left his own seat to sit next to Mr Putin, who was placed next to First Lady Melania Trump.
According to the Washington Post, Mr Trump was alone, while his Russian counterpart had a translator with him.
Both the Washington Post and the New York Times said the meeting went on for an hour.
Angered by the reports, Mr Trump tweeted: “Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick.’ All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”
He added: “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”
The White House claimed in a statement that it was only “a brief conversation”, adding: “The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”
Their conversation was only acknowledged by the White House after it was publicly revealed by Ian Bremmer, the president of the international consulting firm Eurasia Group.
The Washington Post said the president had ‘distorted’ the US media reports, saying they were about a ‘secret dinner’ when the conversation was described as ‘undisclosed’.
“Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care,” Mr Bremmer told the New York Times.
Mr Bremner said the conversation started “halfway” into the meal and went on “roughly an hour”.
He told the Post that other leaders were “bemused, nonplussed, befuddled” by the animated chat.
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