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Media Sheds Light on "Secret" Informal Talks Between Putin and Trump at G20

© Sputnik / Alexei Nikolsky / Go to the photo bankRussia's President Vladimir Putin (R) greets U.S. President Donald Trump, as First lady Melania Trump stands nearby, during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) greets U.S. President Donald Trump, as First lady Melania Trump stands nearby, during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland July 16, 2018 - Sputnik International
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Relations between the two heads of state have been an unsolved mystery for Western politicians since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential elections in the United States, which many "blamed" on his campaign's alleged collusion with the Kremlin. Both Trump and Vladimir Putin have, however, consistently denied any kind of conspiracy.

US President Donald Trump met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires last November without a translator or note-taker, The Financial Times reported Tuesday.

READ MORE: Interpreter Ethics Back in Spotlight as Trump Slammed for 'Secret' Putin Talks

Putin and Trump at the G20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. - Sputnik International
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According to the media outlet, Trump was joined by his wife Melania, while Putin was accompanied by an interpreter, but there was no interpreter from the US present at the alleged meeting.

The Financial Times cited an unnamed Russian government official who claimed that the conversation had lasted about 15 minutes, and the two addressed such topics as the Syrian conflict and the Kerch Strait provocation when three Ukrainian warships violated Russia's maritime border. Trump and Putin also reportedly discussed the potential for a formal meeting.

President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that it was not the Kremlin’s business to comment on whether the American translator was present during the Trump-Putin conversation on the margins of the G20 summit.

“Putin had a huge amount of episodic behind-the-scenes interactions on his feet on the side-lines of the summit. It is not our business at all as to who was there and who was not there with their translator. President Putin’s translator is always accompanying him – this is our business and here we have complete stability and complete order”, Peskov said.

According to the Kremlin spokesman, the “hysteria” in the media is “unfounded”, especially when it comes to stories about President Trump. 

READ MORE: Pelosi Brands Trump-Putin Relationship 'Dangerous'

The White House stated earlier this month that the US president had an "informal" talk with Putin:

"As is typical at multilateral events, President Trump and the First Lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 4, 2019. - Sputnik International
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Trump had called off a formal meeting with Putin in Buenos Aires over the Kerch Strait incident that took place just days prior to the G20 summit: three ships from the Ukrainian Navy breached the Russian maritime border, entered Russian territorial waters that were temporarily closed and began moving towards the Kerch Strait, which serves as an entrance to the Sea of Azov.

The Ukrainian vessels were detained by Russia after refusing to respond to a lawful demand to leave the area, with sailors from the ships being taken into custody.

READ MORE: From Putin-Trump Summit to Syria: Lavrov Sums Up Russian Foreign Policy in 2018

While Moscow accused Kiev of an unequivocal provocation and violation of international law, the Ukrainian authorities slammed Russia's lawful actions as "aggression" and called on the international community to take action.

The Financial Times' piece comes as the relationship between the two presidents has once again been thrust into the spotlight due to the never-ending media reports speculating that Trump had gone to extraordinary lengths to hide details of his encounter with Putin in Helsinki in July 2018.

US President Donald Trump at G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 30, 2018. - Sputnik International
Trump: Kerch Strait Incident ‘Sole Reason’ for Cancelling G20 Talks With Putin
Although POTUS flatly denied any intention to conceal the contents of their meeting and stated that he would eagerly reveal it, mainstream media and Trump critics insisted on the need to release the interpreter's notes and even subpoena her to testify before Congress to find out what, if any, pledges Trump had made to Putin.

The US president has on numerous occasions stressed that it would be great to have good relations with Russia, and blasted Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the alleged Trump campaign-Kremlin collusion, calling it a "witch hunt".

President Putin, for his part, emphasised in Helsinki that Russia "has never interfered and is not going to meddle in US internal affairs, including the election process".

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