Trump grills Putin on US election interference during face-to-face meeting at G20

Ellen Manning

Donald Trump reportedly questioned Vladimir Putin about Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election, pressing him over whether Russia had meddled in the poll.

President Trump used his first face-to-face meeting to raise the issue with his opposite number, according to reports in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Mr Putin reportedly denied any meddling, and aides for both leaders have apparently given different versions of the exchange that took place on the sidelines of the G20.

‘Robust exchange’ – the two leaders reportedly had a lengthy meeting, discussing a range of issues (Pictures: Getty)

The meeting – scheduled for 35 minutes – apparently lasted for more than two hours, with the US President’s wife Melania reportedly struggling to separate the two leaders so her husband could keep his other appointments.

US secretary of state Rex  Tillerson said that Mr Trump had confronted Mr Putin in a “robust and lengthy” discussion and the Russian premier had denied involvement in any election interference.

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And Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia said the US president had accepted Mr Putin’s denial – something the US has disputed, with Mr Tillerson saying: “I think the president is rightly focused on how do we move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point.”

US officials have said Russia tried to hack election systems in 21 states and sway the election for Mr Trump, representing a level of interference in the US political system that security experts said represents a top-level threat.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there was “positive chemistry” between the two leaders

Mr Trump later described his lengthy head-to-head encounter with Mr Putin as a “tremendous meeting”, with a just-announced cease fire deal for south west Syria forming a key focus.

Both the Russians and the Americans took pains to describe the meeting as “constructive”, cordial and wide-ranging, covering key topics including cyber security and North Korea.

“The two leaders connected very quickly,” Mr Tillerson said. “There was a very clear positive chemistry.”

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