US president Donald Trump says relations with Russia have ‘never been worse as he arrives for high-stakes summit with Vladimir Putin. Russia says it agrees.
Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia, was not impressed by Trump’s opening remarks to Putin.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) July 16, 2018
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) July 16, 2018
The BBC’s Stuart Hughes spotted a cuff-tickling handshake.
Since the one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin started, the pool has been waiting in a non-air-conditioned, steamy conference room in the presidential palace on the first floor. On the menu for lunch is hot soup.
We have a view of lots of people walking right by the palace on the opposite side of this narrow street.
At 3:16 pm local time (1.16pm BST) we are gathering to go up to another photocall before the summit lunch – an extended bilateral meeting involving Trump and Putin and their aides
Attending the bilateral with Trump will be US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman; US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; White House chief of staff, John Kelly; national security adviser, John Bolton; Russia expert and Trump adviser, Fiona Hill; and Marina Gross, an interpreter.
The White House has confirmed that Putin and Trump will hold another bilateral meeting with more aides present after their tete-a-tete. There will also be a joint press conference.
The joint press conference had been due to take place at around 4.50pm local time, (2.50pm BST).
There has been no word on whether this timetable has slipped after the delay to the start of the summit.
What we know so far
- Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are holding a one-to-one meeting in Helsinki after posing for a tense photocall. The two men shook hands for only three seconds.
- In opening remarks to Putin, Trump said he planned to discuss trade, military, missiles and China. He did not mention Russian meddling in the US election, Ukraine, Syria, Nato or Salisbury poisoning. But he congratulate Putin on a successful World Cup.
- “Getting along with Russia is a good thing,” Trump said after admitting the US and Russia have “not been getting along very well for the last number of years”. He added: “I really think the world wants to see us get along. We are the two great nuclear powers.”
- Both Putin and Trump delayed their arrival to the summit in what was widely interpreted as diplomatic gamesmanship. Putin’s plane arrived in Helsinki almost an hour after the summit was due to begin. Trump then delayed his arrival at the Presidential Palace where the talks are taking place.
- In a pre-summit tweet Trump said US-Russia relations have “never been worse”. He went on to blame the “rigged witch hunt” into Russian meddling in the US election. Russia’s foreign ministry said it agreed with that assessment.
- In another pre-summit tweet Trump hailed last week’s strained meeting with Nato as a success. He said: “We had a truly great Summit that was inaccurately covered by much of the media. NATO is now strong & rich!”