US envoy insists Trump was tough on Putin

WASHINGTON • The United States ambassador to the United Nations has insisted that President Donald Trump had confronted Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin head-on over allegations of election interference, adding: "Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections."

Ambassador Nikki Haley said last Saturday that Mr Trump had gone into the meeting "to basically look him in the eye, let him know that, yes, we know you did it and cut it out".

But she declined to say what penalties Moscow might face for such meddling.

The US and Russian sides have issued sharply conflicting accounts of the meeting last Friday in Hamburg, Germany, between the two leaders.

Russia has denied meddling, and Mr Putin said last Saturday that in the meeting, "I got the impression that my answers satisfied him" and that Mr Trump "agreed".

But Ms Haley said the Russian denials were expected. "This is Russia trying to save face," she told CNN. "And they can't. They can't."

Questioned at a news conference about the differing view of the meeting described by Mr Trump's advisers, Mr Putin told reporters that "you should ask him".

But Mr Trump - breaking with normal practice by US presidents and many other leaders at the end of a G-20 meeting - left Hamburg without holding a news conference.

The first face-to-face meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Putin had aroused exceptional interest, amid ongoing investigations into contacts between members of Mr Trump's presidential campaign and Russian officials.

US intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia tried to influence the US election outcome. "Any country needs to know that there are consequences when they get involved in our elections," Ms Haley told CNN. "And I think that's why it's good that the investigations are going on."

But asked what specific consequences Russia might face following the meeting last Friday, she replied: "I think you're going to have to ask the President."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'US envoy insists Trump was tough on Putin'. Print Edition | Subscribe