Buenos Aires Times

Kremlin 'regrets' Trump decision to cancel Putin talks

Washington's decision comes almost immediately after Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen admitted Thursday he lied to Congress about key details in the negotiations for construction of Trump Tower in Moscow.

Friday 30 November, 2018
US President Donald Trump.
US President Donald Trump. Foto:AFP/ MANDEL NGAN

US President Donald Trump's decision to cancel talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit was regrettable, the Kremlin said.

"We regret the US administration's decision to cancel the meeting," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies. 

"This means that discussion of important issues on the international and bilateral agenda will be postponed indefinitely."

Putin, he said, "is ready to have contacts with his American counterpart."

Trump on Thursday scrapped the meeting over Moscow's seizure at the weekend of three Ukrainian ships and continued detention of a group of Ukrainian sailors.

The two had been set for bilateral talks on Saturday at the G20 in Buenos Aires.

TRUMP TOWER IN MOSCOW?

Washington's decision comes almost immediately after Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen admitted Thursday he lied to Congress about key details in the negotiations for construction of Trump Tower in Moscow, most notably that those talks stretched much deeper into the presidential campaign than previously thought, to June of 2016.

Trump, speaking to reporters Thursday, disputed Cohen's timeline and suggested his former fixer was telling prosecutors what they wanted to hear to save his own skin. As for why the most recent deal failed, Trump said he made the decision because he was focused on on running for president."

Trump's plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow went back as far as 1996 when the future president paid a visit to the Russian capital to check out building sites on land being developed by a US company.

That idea fell through, along with plans to revamp the dilapidated Hotel Moskva next to the Kremlin, but the real estate mogul raised the prospect of a "super-luxury residential tower" bearing his name on other sites he visited on his three-day stay in the city.

"Moscow is going to be huge," Trump told Playboy magazine in a 1997 interview.

Trump revived the idea in 2013 during his visit to Moscow as owner of the Miss Universe pageant. Trump later said he had discussed the idea with Aras and Emin Agalarov, a father-and-son Russian development team close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump reportedly scouted a potential site, but the idea again faded.

The tower idea came back yet again in October 2015, when Andrey Rozov, an obscure Russian real estate developer, signed a letter of intent sent by Cohen to advance the construction of a Trump World Tower that would feature 250 luxury condos, no fewer than 15 floors of hotel rooms, commercial and office space, a fitness center and an Ivanka Trump spa.

Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were copied in on emails about the project in late 2015, a person close to the Trump Organization told Associated Press. In one email, Ivanka Trump even suggested an architect for the building, the person said, noting the Trump Organization provided the emails to congressional committees.

The company's email traffic about the project ends in January 2016, said the person, who wasn't authorised to speak publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

-AFP/AP

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