This is an outstanding article from the NYT, reporting on President Trump and President Putin’s first face to face meeting at the Hamburg G20 meeting.
Given recent tensions between the US and Russia, the two hour meeting went cautiously well – it was originally scheduled for a half an hour.
The NYT was careful to report in a balanced way, citing the alternative views emerging of the meeting. Here are some important threads:
- Mutual respect from Trump and Putin, which will form a basis for cautious future dealings – this has to be set against the rest of the Hamburg G20, where US isolationist and nationalist policies, are placing the US in disagreement with other members, in particular Europe.
- Trump raising Russian interference in the US election, Putin denying it and Trump accepting Putin’s word. Both sides were keen to deal with other matters
- A cautious cease-fire in the South East of Syria was a clear victory for the meeting
- But overall both leaders and their countries agreed to new dialogues on important areas like cyber attacks and Ukraine. The NYT suggested that President Putin was happy to play for longer term improvements.
The liberal NYT has been highly critical of Presidents Trump and Putin in the past but was even-handed in its reporting a of this historic meeting. It was significant that Trump highlighted that the evidence for Russia meddling in the US election was far from clear.
No doubt the world’s media will present more colourful accounts but the bottom line implicit in the NYT article was that given the disagreements this meeting was a good start for future dealings. This has to be a win, albeit a minor one.