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Trump Is In Osaka To Meet With World Leaders At G-20 Summit


The G-20 economic summit is underway in Osaka, Japan. President Trump has a series of meetings with world leaders. NPR's Michael Sullivan is also in Osaka, Japan.

Good morning, Michael.


MARTIN: OK. So President Trump met with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin. This is the first time these guys have met face-to-face since the Mueller report came out. Did President Trump say anything about Russian meddling in the 2016 election?

SULLIVAN: He did not. The issue of meddling came up but not in reference to the last election but to the next one. Trump said the two men had many things to discuss, including trade and disarmament. Then a reporter asked if he would tell Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election. And Trump responded, yes, of course, I will. And then he turned to Putin, and he said, no meddling in the election. And then he wagged his finger at Putin in a kind of playful way as he repeated it. And that was pretty much it. There was no mention of the Mueller report or the last election.

MARTIN: I watched that video, and it's so interesting that - because the president is smiling a little bit as he tells Putin not to meddle - just kind of a striking moment.

SULLIVAN: It looked a little tongue-in-cheek, didn't it?

MARTIN: Yeah. Yeah. President Trump doesn't seem to like these big, multilateral meetings. On his way to the summit, he was complaining about U.S. allies. He was criticizing some U.S. allies. Did he keep doing that today?

SULLIVAN: No. He was very restrained in his first two meetings with both the summit host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and with India's prime minister, Narendra Modi. Trump had been complaining about Japan not pulling its weight in the U.S.-Japan military alliance, and he's been threatening Japan with increased tariffs on Japanese auto exports, too. But today, nothing but praise for Abe.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I appreciate the fact that you're sending many automobile companies into Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and North Carolina - a lot of our states. I see they're building all over the United States, a lot of the great Japanese car companies and other Japanese companies, also.

SULLIVAN: The two men also discussed shared security challenges, Rachel, including North Korea and Iran and their bilateral trade relationship. President Trump also had high praise for India's Prime Minister Modi after earlier criticizing India for opposing new tariffs on U.S. goods. He said today that the relationship between the two countries had never been better.

MARTIN: And it seems as though, while he's there, the president did squeeze in some time to watch some of the Democratic debate last night. He tweeted this morning, quote, "I'm in Japan at the G-20 representing our country well. But I heard that it was not a good day for Sleepy Joe or Crazy Bernie. One is exhausted. The other is nuts. So what's the big deal?" - end quote. He was watching.

SULLIVAN: He was watching. And he actually brought it up at the beginning of his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who didn't say anything in response. But yes, he was definitely watching, and he just couldn't resist getting that in today.

MARTIN: So what else is on President Trump's agenda before he leaves for South Korea?

SULLIVAN: He's got a little more G-20 business and then two more bilateral meetings tomorrow. The first is with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the second, of course, is with China's president, Xi Jinping. With the two countries engaged in a bitter trade war, many are hoping that meeting will result in a truce and a resumption of negotiations on a new trade deal. When asked about it today, President Trump said tomorrow will be a very exciting day.

MARTIN: Some high-stakes meetings there. NPR's Michael Sullivan in Osaka.

Thanks, Michael.

SULLIVAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michael Sullivan is NPR's Senior Asia Correspondent. He moved to Hanoi to open NPR's Southeast Asia Bureau in 2003. Before that, he spent six years as NPR's South Asia correspondent based in but seldom seen in New Delhi.