Ex-NATO leader: Meeting is Trump's chance to 'confront' Putin on hacking

Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO John Stavridis said Sunday that President Trump's upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is his best chance to confront him about meddling int he 2016 election and start peace talks.

"[The] meeting is a good thing," Stavridis told radio host John Catsimatidis in an interview that aired Sunday on AM 970 in New York.

"It is an opportunity for President Trump… to confront President Putin about his interference in our election."

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Trump plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, their first face-to-face encounter since Trump’s inauguration in January. 

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Thursday the two leaders plan to meet. A spokesperson for Putin previously said the meeting would take place on the sidelines of the summit.

McMaster said there is no set agenda for the meeting, but Stavridis suggested Sunday that it would also be a good opportunity to discuss ending war in Syria.

"We ought to be exploring with President Putin how we can cooperate to end this terrible war in Syria. This is not going to be solved on the battlefield. It is going to require a diplomatic resolution. And only the United States and Russia working together can resolve it," Stavridis said.

"Today I think it is clear frankly with the Russian assistance to Assad that Assad is not going anywhere. So, rather than end up in a situation where another 500,000 people die, I think it is time to have a political accommodation."

Trump has been signaling a more aggressive and antagonistic approach to Syria and Russia, Assad’s primary backer, since the chemical attack — moving away from his campaign promises to forge better ties with Moscow and to avoid U.S. military interventions in the Middle East. 

 

There have been conflicting signals from administration officials over what actions by Syria might provoke another U.S. response, and the administration has yet to offer support for other forms of intervention, such as setting up a safe zone for civilians.