President Donald Trump told Russian President Vladimir Putin not to meddle in the U.S. elections, appearing to make light of a scandal that led to a two-year investigation into his campaign’s contact with the Kremlin during the 2016 elections.
Trump then turned to Putin to give the directive twice while pointing at the Russian leader. Putin maintained a smile as the remark was interpreted for him.
The two leaders were heading into talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan’s western city of Osaka, their first formal face-to-face meeting since a controversial high-profile summit in Helsinki last July.
Russia is under punitive sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union and wants them lifted.
Trump’s critics have accused him of being too friendly with Putin and slammed him for failing to publicly confront the Russian leader in Helsinki over Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.