Dinner with Putin and a President's stand in: How Melania and Ivanka Trump saved the day at the G20
On a day that the G20 hosted a Women’s Empowerment working lunch, President Donald Trump went the extra mile to make sure he empowered the women in his own family.
Months after appointing his daughter Ivanka as one of his official advisers, Mr Trump sent the former model to stand in for him at a G20 leaders’ meeting.
It came hours after his wife Melania charmed President Vladimir Putin at an official dinner, having already been sent into a meeting between her husband and the Russian premier as a messenger by the US delegation.
This morning Ivanka, 36, took up the seat reserved for the President during the third working session of the G20 leaders while Mr Trump attended separate meetings elsewhere at the summit.
G20 leaders often send proxies to working sessions while they hold bilateral meetings with other leaders, but it is thought to be the first time a leader’s daughter has fulfilled such a role.
The President’s wife Melania has also been called upon by the US delegation, after it emerged she was sent in to Mr Trump’s lengthy one-on-one meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to try to wind up their conversation.
Mr Trump spent 2hrs 16mins with President Putin on Friday, and Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, disclosed that presidential aides became exasperated that the President was allowing it to overrun for so long. Slots of 30 minutes are usually allotted for each bilateral meeting.
Mr Tillerson said: “They even sent in the First Lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, and that didn't work either … We went another hour after.”
At the dinner that followed, Mrs Trump was seated next to Mr Putin, and appeared to be getting on well as they smiled during their conversations.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, was sitting next to Argentina’s First Lady Juliana Awada, voted the most elegant first lady in the world by Hola! magazine last year.
At a concert before the dinner the Trumps sat next to the French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte.
Mr Trump has faced criticism in the US for giving his family too much power in his administration - Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner - who is also at the G20 - was appointed as one of his chief advisers when Mr Trump took office in January, and he promoted his daughter to her current official role in March.
A White House spokesman said: "Ivanka was sitting in the back and then briefly joined the main table when the President had to step out."
President Trump also supported his daughter by joining a women’s entrepreneurial finance event, a project spearheaded by her.
Ivanka Trump and the World Bank rolled out a new fund that aims to help female entrepreneurs access capital, financing and other support. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative fund had so far raised $325 million from various governments.
Mr Trump applauded his daughter’s efforts to help female entrepreneurs, joking that “if she weren’t my daughter, it would be so much easier for her".