MINNEAPOLIS -- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has met Russian President Vladimir Putin on many occasions, said it appeared Putin and President Trump made a genuine personal connection during their much anticipated first face to face meeting.
"The two leaders I would said connected very quickly. There was a very clear positive chemistry between the two," Secretary Tillerson told reporters at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
"There was just such a level of engagement and exchange. Neither one of them wanted to stop."
Indeed the inaugural meeting ran two hours and 15 minutes, nearly five times longer than such opening encounters normally last.
The biggest unknown before Friday was whether President Trump would press Putin on the issue of Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Tillerson said the President did raise the issue early, and often during their talk.
"The president pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement. President Putin denied such involvement, as he has in the past," Tillerson reported.
"The two leaders agreed that this is a substantial hindrance in the ability to us to move the Russian-US relationship forward and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments of non-interference."
Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and two translators were the only other persons in the room with the two world leaders for the closed door meeting. Tillerson's conversation with reporters served as the first glimpse into what happened in the long awaited diplomatic rendezvous.
Whatever the two leaders had to say to each other during the public photo op prior to the meeting was for the most part indiscernible due to the din of camera shutters.
Tillerson, who first met Putin while serving as CEO of ExxonMobile, said much of the rhetoric revolved around the common interest of the two nuclear powers. He said the Russian leader made a commitment to a new cease fire in Syria, but US officials will withhold judgment pending the outcome.
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