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Thomas Pickering Expresses Caution on Trump-Putin Meeting: 'Middle Ground'

Image: Thomas Pickering Expresses Caution on Trump-Putin Meeting: 'Middle Ground'
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By    |   Friday, 07 Jul 2017 03:52 PM

Retired U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering was wary Friday about President Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin in Germany, saying that "it's too early to be either over enthusiastic or overly glum."

"I think it was in the middle ground," Pickering, 85, who served in diplomatic posts under six U.S. presidents, told Brooke Baldwin on CNN. "It suits both people.

"Both President Putin and President Trump are looking at this particular arrangement as a good one.

"They have more to talk about," he added, "and I would be the last to denigrate it – even though we don't know everything that went on.

"But the more important thing is can we help to solve a lot of those particularly ongoing questions for the future, and there, I would put more stress and indeed more emphasis in terms of this meeting."

Trump and the Russian president met for more than two hours at the G-20 summit in Hamburg – and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. commander-in-chief started out by raising concerns about Moscow's meddling in last year's election.

Putin denied any involvement, Tillerson said.

To that point, Pickering told Baldwin: "We have to play better defense, because the use of offensive activities to a point where Mr. Putin will pay attention to them in my view is something that risks serious escalation and war – and that's certainly not something we want."

He noted the "personal chemistry" between Trump and Putin and "their ability to deal, at least in a beginning way, with North Korea and Syria."

More broadly, Pickering said, "we're in a question of unraveling the problems of the past" with Russia.

"That's significant and not unimportant," he added. "But the more important thing is can we help to solve a lot of those particularly ongoing questions for the future."

These included further reductions in nuclear weapons between the countries and preventing a "hacking arms race," he said.

"The defense needs to keep up with the offensive capability here as much as we can," Pickering told Baldwin.

"Starting, essentially, hacking arms race is not in anybody's interest – and hopefully, President Trump made that point to President Putin.

"It will hurt him as much as it will hurt us, and neither of us will gain very much."

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Retired U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering was wary Friday about President Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin in Germany, saying that "it's too early to be either over enthusiastic or overly glum."
thomas pickering, trump, putin, meeting
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2017-52-07
Friday, 07 Jul 2017 03:52 PM
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