Wednesday 13 December 2017

Donald plays Trump cards... Melania and Ivanka

Lady's first: Russia's president Putin greets Melania Trump before his talks with her husband Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Lady's first: Russia's president Putin greets Melania Trump before his talks with her husband Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Gordon Rayner

On the day that the G20 hosted a Women's Empowerment working lunch, US 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.

Yesterday morning Ivanka (36) took up the seat reserved for the President during the third working session of the G20 leaders while her father attended 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 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 Mr Putin to try to wind up their conversation.

Mr Trump spent two hours and 16 minutes with Mr Putin on Friday, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson 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.

The First Lady was rarely seen or heard from during the early months of her husband's administration. But during the president's first two trips abroad, she's taken on a far more prominent role.

Mrs Trump introduced her husband ahead of his speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday - and was spotted sitting in on Trump's bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday. She had been invited to attend by the president, said her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.

Grisham added via email that it's "not uncommon for the president to ask Mrs. Trump to be present for many different meetings."

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.

President Trump has faced criticism in the United States 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 Donald 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 at 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 $325m (€285m) 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".

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