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G20 Summit Starts in Hamburg, Putin Meets With Trump

By Ilham Karimli July 7, 2017

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President Putin and President Trump held their first ever face-to-face meeting in Hamburg, July 7, 2017 / Michael Klimentyev / Sputnik

Heads of the world’s twenty leading economies gathered for the twelfth annual two-day summit of the G20 platform on Friday in Hamburg, Germany, where they are discussing political and social problems of global significance, including challenges of global finance, economy, terrorism, climate, health, migration, refugees, corruption and others. 

"We all know the big global challenges and we know that time is pressing," Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the opening speech. "And so solutions can only be found if we are ready for compromise and move toward each other, but without - and I stress this - bending too much because of course, we can also state clearly when there are differences." 

The G20 or “Great Twenty” is an association of the world's 19 leading countries and the European Union (EU), which accounts for two-third of the world's population and nearly 80 percent of the global GDP. The G20 nations are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, China and South Africa. Spain acts as the permanent guest of annual summits.

Caspian region’s Russia is represented at the gathering of world leaders by President Vladimir Putin, who arrived in Hamburg, the third largest port city of Europe in northern Germany, on Friday. 

The most important meeting on Putin’s agenda was undoubtedly his long anticipated sitting with the US President Donald Trump. Following a gentle handshake earlier in Friday the two sat for the face-to-face talks later on the same day over the issues of bilateral and global significance for the very first time since Trump took over White House seven months ago in January.

The world was closely tracking the 135-minute-long meeting between the two leaders as it came amidst the growing tensions over their completely distinctive roles in the Syrian and Ukrainian crisis. 

"I had a very lengthy conversation with the President of the United States, there were a lot of questions - there are Ukraine, Syria, other problems, some bilateral issues," Putin said after the meeting, Tass reported.

Washington backs anti-government forces in war-torn Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow remains the strongest supporter of the Syrian leader against numerous militant camps, including the radical Sunni terrorist group Islamic State, known as IS or ISIS.  In Ukraine, where Russia dispatched its military forces and annexed Crimea peninsula in 2014, Kuril Islands Washington stands along with the Kiev government and accuses Russia of igniting the crisis through backing the rebels in Ukraine’s east. 

Trump and Putin agreed to establish a ceasefire in a limited area of southwestern Syria from Sunday onwards and also create “safe zones” in the country, according to Trump administration officials, who confirmed the media reports about the agreement. The handshake will reportedly serve to settle down the six-year-long conflict in Syria and at the same time accelerate the resolution of the hottest Middle East crisis of the modern world. 

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things, and I think it’s going very well,” President Trump said. “We look forward to a lot of very positive happenings for Russia and for the United States, and for everyone concerned.”

After more than two hours of talks with President Trump, Putin met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to deliberate matters of bilateral interest, including the Kuril Islands, which stretches north across the Pacific Ocean from the Japanese island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. Russia and Japan are locked in a 60-year-long dispute over four islands that Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan calls the Northern Territories. 

Abe said Tokyo is ready to develop cooperation with Moscow in the Kuril Islands to build confidence between Russia and Japan in order to conclude a peace treaty, which is possible through “deepening trust between the two countries.” 

On the sidelines of G20 gathering, Putin also attended an informal meeting of the BRICS, the union of the world’s leading developing or newly industrialized countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Putin’s speech at the meeting weighed in on G20 policies, global climate and energy issues, and anti-terrorism efforts.

An important direction of the G20 is the improvement of the international financial system, which should work in the interests of all economies, including developing ones, Putin said.

Of the energy security of the world, President Putin underlined his country as “a reliable supplier of energy resources to world markets, to many countries and regions of the world.” 

Russia owns the world’s largest gas reserves estimated at 48 trillion cubic meters. Moscow-based Gazprom Company controls 17 percent of the global gas reserves. In 2016, western and central European countries imported 178.3 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia, sharing 80 percent in Moscow’s overall gas deliveries. Oil reserves of Russia are estimated at 80 billion barrel, the world’s eighth largest, while it boasts the world’s number one oil producer with 10.83 million barrel production per day.