Donald Trump is keen to “move forward” from claims Russia interfered to get him elected president, having asked Vladimir Putin face-to-face whether they were true.
The much-anticipated meeting between the American president and Russian president began with Trump asking about the allegations, which Trump’s critics believe delivered Trump the presidency.
Putin denied it and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump was “rightly focused on how do we move forward from something that may be an intractable disagreement at this point”.
According to CBS News, Tillerson said Putin had asked for evidence of interference and Trump was reluctant to keep “relitigating of the past”.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who was also in the meeting, said Trump “accepted” Putin’s defence.
Tillerson told US journalists the pair “connected very quickly” and “there was a very clear positive chemistry between the two”.
Hackers with links to Russian intelligence allegedly sought to discredit Hillary Clinton and they may have been responsible for the release of thousands of emails from Democratic National Committee that were damaging.
Many members of Trump’s circle have been accused of contact with Russian officials in the runup to the election.
Trump and Putin met for more than two hours during the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. The meeting was scheduled to last only 30 minutes.
Tillerson said it went on so long because “neither one of them wanted to stop”.
They also talked about Syria, Ukraine, counterterrorism and cybersecurity.
Reports that Trump was ready to move on from the issue or accepted Russia’s denial left many unimpressed.
Before they met privately, Trump and Putin appeared on stage together and the US president said it was an “honour” to finally meet him.
“We spoke over the phone with you several times, but phone conversations are never enough,” Putin said, through a translator. “I’m delighted to be able to meet you personally.”
Trump held out his hand and Putin reached back to shake it.
Chess champion and Putin critic Garry Kasparov said the visual of Trump offering his hand first was important for the Russian president to an impression of power.