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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Russia 'regrets' Trump decision to cancel Putin talks, says domestic issues prompted the move

President Putin says he is still ready to meet with his American counterpart

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands ahead a meeting in Helsinki. AFP
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands ahead a meeting in Helsinki. AFP

US President Donald Trump's decision to cancel talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit was regrettable, the Kremlin said on Friday, while the Russian foreign ministry claimed that "domestic" issues in the US may have prompted the move.

"We regret the US administration's decision to cancel the meeting," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

"This means that discussion of important issues on the international and bilateral agenda will be postponed indefinitely."

Mr Putin, he said, "is ready to have contacts with his American counterpart."

Meanwhile, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova questioned the motives behind Mr Trump's decision.

"Is the provocation started by Kiev in this area (Azov Sea) a real reason for the cancellation? We heard that as an official version and we accepted that. Is it a real one? I believe we should look for answers in the U.S. domestic political situation," she was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Mr Trump kicked off two days of diplomacy at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina on Friday after his abrupt decision to cancel a meeting with President Putin overshadowed the proceedings before they even started.

Mr Trump barreled into the two-day meeting by announcing via Twitter that he was canceling on Putin over Russia's seizure of Ukrainian vessels. His agenda Friday is expected to include meetings with world leaders, the signing of a revamped trade deal with Canada and Mexico, as well as a number of group activities for the gathering of rich and developing nations.

Coming into this G-20, Mr Trump faces a series of diplomatic challenges — most notably whether he can strike an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to ease trade tensions.

Mr Trump on Thursday scrapped the meeting over Moscow's seizure at the weekend of three Ukrainian ships and continued detention of a group of Ukrainian sailors.

The two had been set for bilateral talks on Saturday at the G20 in Buenos Aires.

Mr Trump on Thursday scrapped the meeting over Moscow's seizure at the weekend of three Ukrainian ships and continued detention of a group of Ukrainian sailors.

The two had been set for bilateral talks on Saturday at the G20 in Buenos Aires.

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President Trump barrels into G-20 summit after nixing Putin meeting

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QuickTake: G20 leaders meet in Argentina to address economic issues

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