Despite numerous earlier reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, moments ago the "breathless speculation" and suspense whether the Russian president would indeed skip the opportunity to meet with the top US diplomat - who has been repeatedly portrayed in the press as a friend of the Russian president - ended when Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin is currently meeting with Tillerson, together with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Kremlin.
The surprise meeting comes one day after Kremlin officials said the top American diplomat would not meet with the Russian leader during his first official trip to Moscow.
"Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with the US Secretary of State Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Kremlin," Peskov told Sputnik.
Peskov refrained from revealing what the President discussed with the diplomats. Earlier Tillerson met with Lavrov, when in a closed door meeting the Russian foreign minister warned Tillerson no to strike Syria again.
So, can the breathless speculation about a Tillerson/Putin meeting end now?
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) April 12, 2017
The meeting between Secretary Tillerson & Russian President Putin began 15 minutes ago. Cat & mouse game captivates US media.
— margaret brennan (@margbrennan) April 12, 2017
— Ilya Arkhipov (@world_reporter) April 12, 2017
Tillerson met with Putin several times as chief executive of ExxonMobil. The Russian leader awarded Tillerson his country’s top honor for foreign nationals, the Order of Friendship, in 2013. It was believed the secretary of State’s relationship with Putin would help Trump improve relations with Russia. So far that has not been the official case.
We will update this post following the media briefing on what was discussed in the meeting between the two. Details to follow.