The summit, which was being closely monitored by rattled world capitals, was condemned in advance by members of Congress from both parties after the US indictment last week of 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking Democrats in the 2016 election to help Trump's presidential campaign.
Hovering over Helsinki is the spectre of the 2016 election interference and ongoing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian Federation.
"The world wants to see us getting along, we are the two great nuclear powers, we have 90 per cent of the nuclear (weapons), that's not a good thing it's a bad thing". Trump has provided lethal aide, but to questionable effect.
The presidents sat on ornate blonde wood chairs, separated by small table with a white flower arrangement on it. Mr. Putin, whose late arrival in Helsinki delayed the start of the meeting by nearly an hour, spoke first, briefly noting that the two men had many hard issues to discuss.
Trump is under heavy pressure to tell Putin to stay out of USA elections when they meet, and he said Friday that he would. The Russian agents are accused of hacking email accounts controlled by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign, and publicizing messages.
Trump reached out to shake Putin's hand, before the media were ushered out.
No mention of Russia interference in the presidential election, the 12 Russian military officers indicted in the USA on Friday for election tampering, Russian's annexation of territory in Crimea, etc.
On the eve of a key summit between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, USA national security adviser John Bolton said today the hacking of Democratic emails during 2016 campaign was a serious matter and he found it "hard to believe" that Russian President Vladimir Putin was unaware it.
The Russian foreign ministry "liked" his tweet, and tweeted back: "We agree".
"I think we could probably get along very well". He called Russian Federation a "foe in certain respects".
Putin might try to convince Trump to take a "more flexible" position on war-ravaged Syria in the hope that Washington would be less active in the country, Malashenko said.
Over the past few days, Trump badgered North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over their military spending levels.
"The president must demand that the 12 Russians named in the indictment be sent to the U.S.to stand trial", said Sen.
Shortly before the summit opened, Trump was asked if he would press Putin over alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign.
Then Trump complained once again that President Obama did nothing to stop the Russian election meddling that he publicly encouraged.
"I don't think you'll have any 'Gee, I did it".
"Presidents Trump and Putin respect each other and they get along well", he told Russia's RT television. Several Senate Democrats wrote to Trump on Saturday to warn him against meeting alone with Putin, to no avail.
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