As the meeting of presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump ran far longer than expected Friday, US officials dispatched First Lady Melania Trump in a desperate bid to bring the lengthy talks to an end.
The leaders of Russia and the US had their first official meeting while both attended the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
The bilateral meeting was scheduled to last 30-40 minutes – however, the two leaders ended up talking for more than two hours.
“Several times I had to remind the president, people were sticking their heads in the door,”said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, was also in attendance.
Such was the delay, the president’s aides employed Melania Trump to try and get the leaders to wrap things up.
“They even sent in the first lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, and that didn’t work either,” Tillerson said. “We went another hour after she came in to see us, so clearly she failed.”
The meeting ended up lasting 2 hours and 16 minutes in total. Tillerson said the leaders had “positive chemistry” and “connected quickly.”
Trump later described the talks as “tremendous.”
At a press conference, Putin revealed that he and Trump discussed many topics, including Ukraine, Syria, cybersecurity and fighting terrorism.
The presidents agreed to create a bilateral channel to promote a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. After the meeting, US and Russian officials announced a ceasefire agreement in southwestern Syria which will come into effect Sunday.
Meanwhile, G20 protests in Hamburg meant Melania was unable to leave her accommodation to attend an event for the spouses of world leaders Friday. As a result, she reportedly missed out on a boat ride, lunch and a tour of a climate control center.