Da Nang, Vietnam President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not hold a formal meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here in Vietnam, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
Trump and Putin will not formally meet in Vietnam
The prospect of the meeting hung over the rest of Trump’s Asia trip
Citing “scheduling conflicts on both sides,” Sanders said no formal meeting will take place, but that an informal interaction between the two world leaders was likely to happen, a notion reinforced by her Russian counterparts.
“Regarding a Putin meeting, there was never a meeting confirmed, and there will not be one that takes place due to scheduling conflicts on both sides,” Sanders said. “There is no formal meeting or anything scheduled for them.”
She added: “Now, they’re going to be in the same place. Are they going to bump into each other and say hello? Certainly possible, and likely. But in terms of a scheduled, formal meeting, there’s not one on the calendar and we don’t anticipate that there will be one.”
Sanders’ statement contradicts what the Russian side told reporters for the last two days, adding to the drama around how Trump and Putin will interact at the international summit.
“The meeting will take place on the sidelines,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after Sanders’ statement, adding that some encounter will take place “one way or another.”
Both the US and Russian sides appeared to indicate, however, that the two world leaders are likely to converse in some way during the two-day gathering.
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The possibility of a Trump and Putin meeting has hung over the economic summit, with any interaction — formal or informal — threatening to overshadow the President’s lengthy trip through Asia.
The possible interaction would come amid a series of investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, an issue that has plagued the Trump administration for months. In a recent swirl of action, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation issued his first indictments last week, bringing charges against former top Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who have pleaded not guilty.