Trump Aides’ Biggest Worry About Europe Trip: Meeting With Putin
Even his best people do not know exactly what Mr. Trump decides to do or say when he and M. Poutine will meet on Friday at the Economic Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
And that is what most worries the advisers and officials of his administration, while Mr. Trump begins his second trip overseas as president, first stopping in Warsaw on Thursday to give an address then in Hamburg.
The expected conversation with M. Poutine is in many ways a necessity, given the critical conflicts that divide the United States and Russia.
But it also poses risks for Mr Trump, who is facing a network investigating possible links to his campaign with Russia, as well as questions about his willingness to take Moscow for his military aggression and for-profit electoral interference.
The air of uncertainty about the meeting was highlighted by the president’s willingness to unpredictable states and the optics uncomfortable.
And that’s not the only packed meeting to expect M. Trump this week. Following the launch of North Korea on Tuesday to an intercontinental ballistic missile, it also faces new pressure to act against a Pyongyang threat that has long confused US presidents and has some attractive ways to tackle.
It should meet in Hamburg with Chinese President Xi Jinping as he complains that Beijing has not done enough to stop North Korea.
“There is a lot of nervousness in the White House and the State Department about the meeting and how they manage because they see many potential risks,” said Steven Pifer, former ambassador to Ukraine, who worked for the National Security Council and State Department .
There is this gray cloud for the president of collusion investigations, so any kind of agreement will do the scrutiny of “Is it a gift to the Russians?”
M. Trump himself does not appear to be concerned about the meeting. He told participants that he is more upset by the prospect of being scolded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders to leave agreements on Paris’s climate and its hard line on immigration.
Team M. Trump said he could evoke Russia’s documented interference during the 2016 election, but he is unlikely to insist on this: doubts about the legitimacy of his election should be highlighted.
Aides hope they will focus on issues related to Syria, including setting up security zones, anti-reluctant Islamic state and M. Poutine to prevent the government of President Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons against the civilian population.
Before the meeting between US President and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said last Wednesday that the United States “are willing to explore the possibility” of broader cooperation with Moscow in Syria, including a discussion in The establishment of free-flying zones.