Sunday 22 September 2019

Trump says he may cancel meeting with Putin over Ukraine

The US president said he did not ‘like that aggression’ after Russia seized three Ukrainian boats.

Donald Trump has hinted he may cancel an upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Donald Trump has hinted he may cancel an upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Zeke Miller, Associated Press

US president Donald Trump has suggested he may cancel his planned sit-down with Vladimir Putin over Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian naval ships last weekend.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr Trump said he would be receiving a “full report” from his national security team on Russia’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea. He said he would decide on a course after that.

“Maybe I won’t have the meeting,” he said. “Maybe I won’t even have the meeting.”

He added: “I don’t like that aggression. I don’t want that aggression at all.”

Mr Trump is due to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The comments were Mr Trump’s strongest to date in condemnation of Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, where tensions are flaring.

But White House aides were still planning for the Putin meeting after Mr Trump’s comments.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the meeting was on and that Russia has not received “any other information from our US counterparts”.

The meeting between the two presidents is set to be just one of several high-profile foreign policy engagements for the US leader on a whirlwind two-day visit to Argentina.

Mr Trump is also set meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping over dinner this weekend, in what may be a pivotal session in determining if and how the ongoing trade dispute between their two countries could be resolved.

On Tuesday, the White House warned Mr Xi against trying to wait out Mr Trump in the ongoing talks, suggesting the Chinese economy was not as resilient to a trade war as would be the US.

The warning from Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, came ahead of the two leaders’ high-stakes sit-down on Saturday evening.

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships over the weekend (AP Photo)

Over the last year, the two countries have levied a series of tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of imports from one another, with the latest round of US duties set to go into force in the new year.

Mr Xi said on Wednesday the international community needs to build consensus to solve the conflict between free trade and protectionism.

In a speech to politicians in Spain, where he is conducting a state visit before attending the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Argentina, he said the world is facing “instability, uncertainty and hot topics without precedents in our history”.

“I think we are at a crossroads,” Mr Xi said. “In economic terms we need to decide if we are going to follow the economic globalisation and free market or if we are going to choose unilateralism and protectionism.”

National Security adviser John Bolton said Mr Trump will also be meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Argentine president Mauricio Macri, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the trip an opportunity for the president to cement relations with other world leaders and advance a global economic system based on “free, fair and reciprocal trade”.

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