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Trump expected to meet Putin and Erdogan in Paris

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily UK | Updated: 2018-11-06 00:28
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during their one-to-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, 16 July 2018. [Photo/IC]

US President Donald Trump is expected to have talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at this weekend's commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I, which takes place in Paris.

Although the White House has yet to confirm it, Putin's foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said a meeting with Trump is expected to take place as a preliminary to more in-depth discussions at the G20 summit in Argentina later this month.

Moscow has indicated it wants to discuss Trump's plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Trump had said he intends to pull the US out of the agreement because of the likelihood of Russia violating its terms.

Trump, who was elected president two years ago this week, has met Putin three times before; in formal discussions at the 2017 G20 meeting in Hamburg, at a summit in Helsinki this year, and informally at last year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam.

Any meeting with Erdogan would come at an extremely sensitive time, as it would be the first since Turkey accused Saudi Arabia of the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate.

Saudi Arabia is one of the US's most important strategic allies in the Middle East, and so far Washington has resisted imposing any punishment on the country while its own internal investigation into events in Istanbul takes place.

The Saudi version of events has already changed several times, and Erdogan has said the people at the very highest level knew of the plan to kill Khashoggi.

Trump is scheduled to fly to Paris in the aftermath of what could be a significant week for his presidency, with mid-term elections taking place on Tuesday which could have a major impact on the political make-up of Congress, the Senate and individual state governorships.

The Paris armistice commemorations will be attended by more than 120 dignitaries from countries that took part in World War I, and international organizations.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is playing host, is expected to avoid an overly militaristic tone to mark an event which is now regarded by many in France as a national tragedy rather than a military triumph, with a source at the Elysee Palace saying the combatants were "mainly civilians who had been armed", rather than regular soldiers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has supported Macron's plans for a subdued commemoration.

The British government will be represented by an as-yet unnamed senior minister and there is likely to be royal representation, although it will probably be a junior member as senior royals such as the Queen and Prince of Wales will attend the London Cenotaph Remembrance Day service.

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