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White House reveals additional Trump-Putin discussion

US President Donald Trump met Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at a second, previously undisclosed meeting at this month's G20

19 July 2017, 8:19am
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on 7 July
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on 7 July
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had an additional, previously undisclosed, chat at this month's G20 summit in Hamburg, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday.

The two leaders held a formal two-hour bilateral meeting on 7 July  in which Trump later said Putin denied allegations that he directed efforts to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump's interactions with the Russian leader were scrutinised closely because of those allegations, which have dominated his first six months in the White House, and Trump's comments as a presidential candidate praising the former KGB spy.

In the evening, Trump and Putin attended a dinner with G20 leaders, where Putin was seated next to US first lady Melania Trump. The US President went over to them at the conclusion of the dinner and visited with Putin, a White House official said. That conversation had not been previously disclosed.

The disclosure has raised questions about what the pair talked about, who was present and why the meeting was not previously mentioned.

"There was no 'second meeting' between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. The insinuation that the White House has tried to 'hide' a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd," a second official said.

"During the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely. President Trump spoke with many leaders during the course of the evening. As the dinner was concluding, President Trump went over to Mrs. Trump, where he spoke briefly with President Putin."

The Trump administration has been besieged by allegations that the president's closest advisors colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Trump's eldest son Donald Jr recently released emails showing he held a meeting during the campaign with Kremlin-connected figures, hoping to get dirt on his dad's election rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump says there was no collusion and Russia denies interference in the election.

Trump late on Tuesday took to Twitter to blast the suggestion that there was anything improper about his dinner chat with Putin.

"Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is 'sick.' All G20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!" he declared.

"The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!"