WASHINGTON – Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin may have reached various historical agreements at their summit in Finland this week. Or they may not have. It depends on who you talk to. Three days later, nobody was quite sure.
No details about the emergence of the leaders of the ” one-on-one discussion on Monday — other than the vague outline she offered herself — officials, policy-makers and citizens in the U.S., in particular, are curious to see what, if anything, was actually agreed. Both Trump and Putin have declared that the meeting was a great success that soon to take advantage of great benefits in a range of geopolitical empires, but even for the most complete account of the conversations that Putin — suggests that all the results are far from certain.
And, the fact that a high-profile, high-stakes summit between the commanders in chief of the world’s two largest nuclear powers can be held without a solid performance or not wise has no idea, a lot.
In the united states, the frustration about the lack of information has already raised suspicions of Trump. Democratic lawmakers have pushed for a summons from the comments of the State Department interpreter who translated for Trump or force her to testify. The republicans have blocked the move. Officials said Thursday in the White House and the State Department were also likely to fight such a move as a violation of the executive branch, giving the appearance of the notes is unlikely until they are published in a historical record of decades from now.
So for now, everyone, but Trump and Putin, and perhaps a handful of their closest confidants in the dark. Even Trump’s own intelligence chief, Dan Coats, said Thursday, “I don’t know what happened in that meeting.”
“It is very amazing, utterly amazing, that no one knows what was said,” Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said. “This is a democracy. If your president makes appointments with one of our important — if not our most important opponent, his Cabinet has to know and so do the American people.”
Typically, a top, especially one between two great powers, will occur after weeks and months of careful planning on the lower levels with the view to producing demonstrable results. Agenda topics to discuss points, the desired results and even large parts of major contracts are usually negotiated in advance so that the relevant authorities of both countries are aware of any changes in the policy. In some cases, the actual summit, and the leaders of the signatures on a piece of paper or a joint communique are just formalities, such as the hard work has already been done by subordinates.
These conventions are upended by Trump’s buccaneering approach to affairs of state — the nature of the approach, he worked in his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and the last month. But this time there was no joint declaration to formalize the outcome of the calls — just a meandering, 45-minute press conference where Trump stoked controversy by appearing to side with Putin about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, expressed hope Thursday that “the verbal agreement between Putin and the Trumpet will be met” — although the content of such agreements remain murky, not least because the most important things in the two hours of discussions between the two leaders with only translators, them.
On Thursday, the Trump administration poured cold water on at least one proposal from Putin: Russia will be allowed for an interview with the Americans, the Kremlin accused of crimes — the quid pro quo to allow U.S. investigators to interrogate Russian intelligence officials recently indicted in the U.S. for the alleged election interference.
“That will not happen,” Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the Russian proposal in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Still, from Putin’s perspective, the summit, Moscow and Washington on “the path to positive change.” In the past few days, he has spoken about finding a broad consensus with the Trumpet in ensuring the security along the syrian border with Israel, and arms control issues. Russian defense and foreign ministries, meanwhile, have both said they are ready to start putting these agreements into action.
Trump himself has also a positive spin to the top. He says that a second meeting with Putin will usher in the implementation of the laundry list of items they discussed in Helsinki. Those, he said in a tweet, terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, the Middle-East peace, and North Korea. “There are a lot of answers, some easy and some difficult, to these problems … but they can ALL be solved!” he said.
Pressed for details, however, the White House could.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred to Syria, Iran, Israel, arms control, Russian annexation of the Crimea from the Ukraine, and the interference in the 2016 U.S. elections have been discussed. But the run of problems from the topics of discussion in action apparently remains a work in progress.
“This is the beginning of the dialogue with Russia and our administration and that of them and we continue to work through those things,” she told reporters at the White House Wednesday.
Just a few minutes later, the State Department offered its own look at the Helsinki meeting, saying that no agreements have been reached; only general proposals on matters which are mainly related to economic and strategic cooperation.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said three proposals: one for a high-level working group with AMERICAN and Russian business leaders to be convened; another for the establishment of an “expert council” of academics, current and former diplomats and military officials from both countries to look broadly at the U.S.-Russia relations, and a third for the U.S. and Russian national security councils to a series of follow-meetings.
“You know, these are all modest proposals,” she said. “The president had said going into this that we wouldn’t solve all the world’s problems in a meeting, in an interview with the Russian government, but we think it’s a good place to start.”
At the Pentagon, officials were waiting to see if their marching orders in Syria would change as a result of the top.
The commander of the AMERICAN forces in the Middle East said Thursday that he had not received new guidance from the Pentagon on the cooperation with Russia in Syria.
“We have received no further direction than we have at this moment already,” Gene. Joseph Votel said in a video teleconference from his headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He said that he is taking a “steady-as-she-goes” approach in Syria in the absence of new instructions.
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Aspen, Colorado, contributed to this report.