Russia’s president may use Friday’s meeting in Hamburg to get the measure of his US counterpart – and consider possibilities for finding common ground

When George W Bush first met Vladimir Putin in 2001, the frosty encounter unexpectedly warmed up after the two bonded over the story of a silver cross that Putin’s mother had given him. Bush declared that he had “looked the man in the eye” and got a “sense of his soul”.

Russia is hoping for a similar personal breakthrough when Donald Trump meets Putin for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. Relations between the US and Russia are now riven by even more political differences than in 2001, but the two leaders’ kind words for each other in the past suggest the possibility of developing a rapport.

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