HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — First Lady Melania Trump, sidelined for part of Friday’s international summit events by anti-globalization protesters, had a cameo appearance at her husband’s closely watched meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The meeting between Putin and President Donald Trump, scheduled to last 35 minutes, was running so long that at one point U.S. officials dispatched the first lady to try and help wrap things up inside the small Hamburg meeting room, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“We went another hour after she came to see us, so clearly she failed,” Tillerson later told reporters in a light-hearted after-action report.
The meeting stretched to 2 hours and 16 minutes in all.
Mrs. Trump joined the president later Friday at a dinner and welcome concert for the Group of 20 summit leaders.
But earlier in the day, violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement prevented Hamburg police from clearing the first lady to leave the government guest house where she and the president spent the night, preventing her from joining other G-20 spouses, according to Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.
Spouses typically get together while leaders are in meetings during international summits and Friday’s program for the spouses included a boat ride, lunch and a tour of a climate control center.
“Thinking of those hurt in #Hamburg protests. Hope everyone stay safe!” Melania Trump tweeted while unable to leave the guest house.
Responding to a second day of protests, police ordered in more than 900 additional officers from across the country to get the clashes under control. More than 160 police officers were injured, dozens of activists had to be taken to the hospital and more than 70 protesters were detained.
The first lady, though not as visible as some of her predecessors, has taken on a fairly prominent role on her husband’s two international trips.
She introduced the president before his major speech in Poland on Thursday. And she was often by his side during his first trip in May, meeting with other leaders’ spouses during a summit in Italy and sharing a laugh with Pope Francis.
Lemire reported from New York.
Follow Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Superville at http://twitter.com/@dsupervilleap