Trump-Putin summit will be a surreal show


So once again, the stage is set for a political spectacle and the rest of the world can only wait and speculate.

Just weeks after his historic summit with Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump has agreed to a sit-down meeting with another mercurial man, Vladimir Putin.

America's commander-in-chief revels in the stagecraft of these diplomatic showdowns and, fresh from what he perceives as success in Singapore, he will likely love the idea of a Round Two, embracing America's foes as he tussles with its allies.

:: First summit announced for Helsinki next month

Video: Body Language: Trump power play

His uniquely unorthodox brand of global negotiating will again leave the international community watching both men's every move and pondering the consequences.

The meeting has been months in the making.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton was dispatched to Moscow to try and firm up the plan – an intriguing detail given that when he was a commentator, he previously said: "We negotiate with Russia at our peril."

Now he says it will help foster "global stability".

Some inside the White House are reportedly concerned about the risk of doing diplomatic business with Putin, but Donald Trump has long pushed for closer relations with Russia and when he suggested Putin visit the White House, the writing was on the wall.

Vladimir Putin 3:02
Video: Body Language: Action man Putin

National security and Syria are expected will be top of the agenda. The president will be fresh from a NATO summit.

If his G7-to-Singapore dash is anything to go by, he could pursue a similar choreography – talking tough with his allies, before opening up to a historic adversary. He enjoys the idea of resetting relations and surprising the world with newly forged relationships.

He will see this as another chance to do exactly that.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg
Image: A crucial handshake at the last July's G20 summit in Hamburg

Trump thinks NATO members need to cough up more cash. Recent reports in US media say he told G7 members that "NATO was as bad as NAFTA".

The worry NATO has is that he will make some concessions to Moscow, perhaps by lifting sanctions.

Those fears are not borne out by policy. America has been firm and consistent in that respect. But… America's allies are concerned.

What no one can predict is what both men might say and agree on when in the room together.

US President Donald Trump chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Image: President Trump chatting with President Putin in November last year

Today, Trump once again cast doubt on Russian election meddling.

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His team insists he will still make clear meddling is "unacceptable".

Whatever the outcome, you can expect a surreal show and two leaders willing to create their own inimitable spin on events.

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