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Russia 'assumes' Trump, Putin will meet at G20: Lavrov

Posted Jun 28, 2017 by AFP
Russia "assumes" that President Vladimir Putin will meet his US counterpart Donald Trump during next week's G20 summit in Germany, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin from the O...
US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin from the Oval Office of the White House on January 28, 2017, in Washington, DC
MANDEL NGAN, AFP/File

Russia "assumes" that President Vladimir Putin will meet his US counterpart Donald Trump during next week's G20 summit in Germany, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

Any such meeting would see the presidents address "several questions", Lavrov said, without elaborating other than to add that "above all, we must normalise dialogue" with Washington.

"We assume that a meeting will take place, given that the two presidents will be in the same town at the same time, same building, even the same room," Lavrov said at a press conference with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

"It wouldn't be normal if they didn't talk," the top Russian diplomat added.

The G20 leaders will meet in Hamburg on July 7 and 8.

Gabriel welcomed the possibility that the summit could bring Trump and Putin, who have yet to meet, together.

During last year's US presidential campaign, Trump often suggested he wanted improved ties with Russia.

At the end of March, Putin said he was ready to meet with Trump at the G20 summit, but neither Moscow nor Washington has confirmed any such plan.

"Above all, it is necessary to normalise dialogue, so that dialogue is based on the vital interests of Russia and the United States," said Lavrov, stressing that there are always meetings "on the margins" of a G20 summit.

But tensions have been mounting between the two powers.

On Monday The White House warned of possible reprisals against the Russian-backed Syrian regime, in response to intelligence suggesting President Bashar al-Assad may be preparing a chemical weapons attack.

The following day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the US "threats" against the Syrian regime which he called "unacceptable".

If the US carries out its threat Russia will "react, in proportion to the situation," Lavrov said Wednesday.

Meanwhile Pentagon chief Jim Mattis accused Putin of making international "mischief".

Speaking to students in Germany to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan to rebuild World War II-ravaged Europe, Mattis said Russia had chosen to challenge the "secure and peaceful" post-war order.

The Russian people's "leader making mischief beyond Russian borders will not restore their fortunes or rekindle their hope," he said, in an apparent reference to the Ukraine conflict and Moscow's alleged meddling in the US electoral process.

US intelligence suspects that Putin orchestrated a sweeping presidential election campaign to tilt the vote in Trump's favour.

But Trump declared himself the victim of the "greatest witch hunt" in American political history, refuting accusations that he tried to quash a probe into collusion between his campaign team and Russia.