The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which took place on November 10-11 in the Vietnamese resort city of Danang, will go down in history as a summit of lost illusions. The chance to hold a full-fledged meeting between presidents of Russia and the United States was missed through the fault of the US side.
On the first day of the APEC summit, Donald Trump was reminiscent of a character from Gogol's "The Marriage," who, being terrified with the ides of married life, escaped from his bride through the window. The notorious 45th US President confined himself to a formal handshake with Putin at the photoshoot ceremony, but was evasive and quickly retired.
It was clear that Trump did his best to avoid serious negotiations with Putin. Like Gogol's character, he avoided all major events on the first day of the summit and ignored two "program" meetings not to come across his Russian counterpart once more (Vladimir Putin participated in both of them). Apparently, the US leader was reluctant to discuss international issues with Vladimir Putin.
On the second day of the APEC summit, Trump was more sociable and predictable, but still evasive. The White House hurried to dot the i's, saying that the meeting between Trump and Putin would not take place because of the busy schedule of the US president.
Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov counted several episodes during these two days, when Putin and Trump shook hands or tapped each other on the shoulder.
Putin also expressed his opinion about his encounters with Donald Trump in Vietnam. At the final meeting with media representatives, the Russian president admitted that it was not possible to hold full-fledged Russian-American talks. "This indicates that the relationship between Russia and the United States has not come out from the state of crisis," Putin said.
"First of all, it was due to the schedule of Mr. Trump's and my schedule, as well as with certain protocol formalities, which, unfortunately, our teams were not able to cope with. Well, they will be punished for that. Nothing terrible has happened," President Putin said adding that he was ready to think about the future of the US-Russian relationship.
Nevertheless, even during a brief dialogue, the two presidents gave the go-ahead for the publication of the text of the joint statement on Syria, which had been carefully coordinated the foreign policy departments of Russia and the United States. In the document, the two leaders reaffirmed their determination to "finally defeat the Islamic State" (the terrorist organisation is banned in Russia) and agreed to support military communication channels. "The struggle will continue," Putin confidently stated.
Trump also assessed the outcome of the meeting with Putin. According to him, Russia can make a significant contribution to the solution of world problems. Trump expressed confidence that he and his Russian counterpart would have excellent relations based on mutual trust. For example, the head of the White House believes that the Russian Federation did not interfere in the US presidential election.
A fly in the ointment was Senator John McCain, who urged Trump to take off his rose-tinted glasses by saying that the naive faith of the US president in the sincerity of Putin's intentions threatens the US national security.
US journalists believe that President Trump will continue avoiding full-fledged meetings with Putin while Robert Muller continues investigating so-called "secret ties" of Trump's election headquarters with the Russian administration during the presidential race in 2016. Although the American leader remains calm outwardly, sources in the White House say that he is worried about this investigation.
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