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Putin says had good conversation with Trump in Paris: media

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had a brief but good conversation with US leader Donald Trump at World War I centenary events in Paris, Russian media reported.

When journalists asked Putin whether he managed to speak to Trump on Sunday, he said: “Yes,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported. Asked how it went, Putin said: “Well.”

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He did not provide further details, but the French presidency said the pair had a wide-ranging discussion during lunch after the commemoration.

Host and French President Emmanuel Macron was there and German Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in some of the exchanges, the presidency said.

Subjects discussed included the situation in the Middle East, notably Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and North Korea.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had sat with world leaders including Putin, Macron and Merkel at lunch and the group had held “very good and productive discussions”.

“The leaders discussed a variety of issues, including the INF (nuclear treaty), Syria, trade, the situation in Saudi Arabia, sanctions, Afghanistan, China, and North Korea,” she said.

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Expectations have been growing for a new Trump-Putin meeting as tensions pile up over the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and US sanctions against Moscow.

Last month Trump sparked concerns globally when he said he would ditch the INF pact, as Putin warned that abandoning the treaty would unleash a new arms race and put Europe in danger.

Around 70 world leaders travelled to the French capital to mark the centenary of the 1918 Armistice on Sunday.

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Arriving last for the event, Putin made for his US counterpart to shake his hand before giving him a thumbs-up sign, while smiling.

Speaking in an interview with the Kremlin-backed channel RT France earlier in the day, Putin confirmed the pair did not want to steal French President Emmanuel Macron’s thunder.

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“We agreed not to violate the host’s work schedule, we will not organise any meetings here at their request,” he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Trump had agreed to hold a more detailed discussion on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month.

The Kremlin said earlier that the prospect of a full meeting between the US and Russian presidents had prompted huge international media interest, leading to concern from the French organisers this could overshadow the commemorations.

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Sondland briefed Pompeo on Trump’s Ukraine scheme — and secretary of state signed off on it: report

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President Donald Trump's ambassador to the European Union kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the loop on efforts to pressure Ukraine's president to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.

Gordon Sondland notified Pompeo in mid-August of a draft statement he'd produced with another U.S. diplomat and Ukrainian officials that they hoped would persuade Trump to invite Volodymyr Zelensky to the Oval Office, reported the New York Times.

He and Pompeo discussed later that month the possibility of pushing Zelensky to pledge during a planned meeting with Trump in Warsaw that he would pursue the investigation sought by the U.S. president in hopes of smoothing relations between the two countries, according to two sources who were briefed on the matter.

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MSNBC’s Mika shocked by Morning Joe’s withering criticism of House GOP: ‘I’ve never heard you accuse someone of that’

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MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski was astonished by her co-host and husband Joe Scarborough's denunciation of congressional Republicans.

The "Morning Joe" hosts agreed GOP attacks on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart fighting in the Iraq War, and other impeachment inquiry witnesses were shameful, but Scarborough went even further in his criticism.

"People talk about the time, 'It's a time we're in,' -- no, it's not," Scarborough said. "It's lack of character among people on these committees, just a lack of character and a lack of love of country that they put their political party above their country."

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Sewer campus escape bid by Hong Kong protesters ends in arrest

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Two pro-democracy protesters were arrested Wednesday as they emerged from a manhole on a Hong Kong road outside a besieged campus, in a thwarted escape bid from inside the university.

Two male protesters holed up in the campus for days were detained along with four people lowering ropes to help them out from the drainage system, police said.

They apparently crawled through fetid sewers to a manhole outside a housing estate around half a kilometre from city centre grounds of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the scene of the dramatic siege by police.

The group were arrested for a range of offences including "taking part in a riot" and "assisting offenders", chief superintendent Ricky Ho told reporters late Wednesday.

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