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Will he, or won’t he?

President Trump is set to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for the first time Friday in Hamburg, Germany, where he will be watched closely to see if he confronts Putin over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Lawmakers from both parties called on Trump to confront Putin over the election.

Several senior Democratic U.S. senators served notice Thursday that Trump would be in “severe dereliction” of his presidential duty if he fails to confront Putin over the issue, telling Trump in a letter that he must make clear that Russia’s interference in U.S. democracy will not be tolerated.

The meeting is scheduled to last 35 minutes and will take place during the G-20 summit. Sources told Fox News that only Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, an interpreter and Putin will be in the room.

Oleg Kalugin, a one-time KGB general, told The Daily Beast that Putin “has been in power for so many years and, by character, he knows how to handle things and how to outsmart others, including presidents of the United States.”

The two world leaders are famous for their alpha-male personas. Putin is known as a skilled statesman, while Trump defines himself as a great businessman and world-class negotiator.

Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, wrote in The Washington Post that Trump’s goal for the meeting should be to demonstrate that he is a tough negotiator “committed to pursuing American interests, and one that is not willing to offer concessions simply to win Putin’s praise.”

“Your goal is not a friendly chat, diplomacy is not a popularity contest,” he wrote.

Trump tweeted early Friday that there was “much to discuss” with the Russian president. Earlier, he again refused to accept the conclusion by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to try to help Trump win last November. During a public appearance in Poland a day earlier, Trump said it could have been Russia, but that other countries could have meddled, too.

U.S. lawmakers and federal investigators continue to look into Russia’s election interference, along with possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russian government officials. That puts Trump under intense scrutiny over how he handles the sit-down with Putin, a former Russian intelligence agent known to come to meetings like this well-prepared.

“I expect an Olympic-level of macho posturing between these two leaders,” said Derek Chollet, executive vice president and senior adviser for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington think tank. “The big thing to watch will be what Putin asks for and what he offers in return and whether there’s a sense of receptivity on the president’s part.”

The list of issues ranges from Syria to Iran to Ukraine, and now North Korea, following Pyongyang’s test this week of a missile capable of striking the U.S.

Before Putin, Trump will try to manage another rocky international relationship when he meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The Putin meeting is the highlight of a hectic, four-day European visit for Trump, who addressed thousands of Poles in an outdoor speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday. He met in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, and had dinner with two Asian allies — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in — to discuss North Korea’s aggression.

The Associated Press contributed to this report



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