Kremlin calls idea Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had undisclosed G-20 meeting absurd

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and US President Donald J. Trump (right) shake hands during their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and US President Donald J. Trump (right) shake hands during their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - The Kremlin believes it is "absolutely absurd" to describe an informal meeting at the G-20 summit between United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as secret or undisclosed, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday (July 20).

A White House official said on Tuesday that Trump and Putin had a previously undisclosed conversation during a dinner for G-20 leaders at a summit earlier this month in Germany, causing alarm among some US politicians who are unhappy about Trump's handling of US-Russia relations.

Trump's interactions with the Russian leader at the summit were scrutinised closely because of allegations that Moscow tried to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election to help Trump win the White House, something Russia flatly denies.

When asked about the nature of the G-20 dinner chat, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters:“There was no secret second meeting.” The two men had chatted informally over dinner, said Peskov, and had discussed adoption.

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Putin in 2012 approved a law that banned Americans from adopting Russian children in retaliation for a new US human rights law which he said was poisoning relations.

Peskov said there were no current plans for a new meeting between Trump and Putin, but there was a chance that such a meeting would occur “at some point.”

Russian news agencies earlier on Thursday had cited Peskov as saying it was “absolutely absurd” to describe the informal dinner conversation between Putin and Trump as secret or undisclosed. “The use of a term like ‘undercover’ or ‘secret meeting’raises eyebrows”, Peskov told state TV, according to the agencies. 

Peskov said they had a bilateral meeting that had been officially agreed through diplomatic channels. "Then they repeatedly exchanged views and remarks on the sidelines. There were no undercover or secret meetings and to assert that there were is absolutely absurd," Peskov was quoted as saying.

Trump, in a New York Times interview, said his conversation with Putin had lasted about 15 minutes and was mostly "pleasantries". Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, has said the meeting lasted about an hour.