President Trump kicked off his two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin by addressing Russia's election meddling and pressed the issue with him repeatedly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Hamburg, Germany, Friday.
Tillerson, who was the only other American official in the room besides Trump, said Putin denied authorizing cyberattacks against Democrats during the presidential race.
The secretary of state confirmed reports that Trump and Putin agreed to a cease-fire with Jordan in southwest Syria.
Trump's meeting with Putin at the G-20 summit in Germany was scheduled to last just 30 minutes. However, the two leaders ultimately held court for more than two hours.
Tillerson told reporters that Trump's team sent first lady Melania Trump into the room where Putin and Trump were meeting in an attempt to break up the talks after the first hour. However, the two leaders were so deep in conversation that they did not end the discussion for another hour, Tillerson noted.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the meeting that Trump accepted Putin's election meddling denials. Lavrov was the only Russian official in the room with Putin.
Lavrov also told reporters that Trump and Putin agreed to form a joint cybersecurity task force in an effort to work together more closely.
On North Korea, Tillerson said Russia clearly views the problem with Pyongyang's nuclear activities through a different lens. The secretary of state said Trump and Putin discussed a "peaceful pressure" campaign that would push North Korea to agree to negotiations about scaling back its nuclear capabilities.
"We're asking North Korea to be prepared to come to the table" to talk about rolling back its nuclear program, not about maintaining it at current levels, Tillerson said.
"It takes a little time to let these things happen," Tillerson said. "It is going to requre some level of patience."
The meeting between Trump and Putin was forward-looking, Tillerson added.
"There was not a lot of relitigating of the past," he said.
The White House had given little indication that Trump planned to push Putin on Russia's election meddling. Critics had speculated that Trump would omit the issue because he has stopped short so far of acknowledging the full extent of Russia's alleged role in trying to tilt the 2016 raise in his favor.
The agreement between Russia, the U.S. and Jordan to address the conflict in southern Syria will take effect in just days. Tillerson said Trump made clear the U.S. view that the international community will not tolerate Syrian President Bashar Assad's indefinite continuation in power and expressed a desire to see Assad step down peacefully.
Tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Syria have risen steadily since Trump took office. Russia continues to back the Assad regime despite pressure from much of the international community to condemn the Syrian leader, who has been accused of numerous human rights violations in his quest to maintain power.
In April, Trump authorized a missile strike against a Syrian air base that Russian forces also use in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons on civilians.
Last month, Trump authorized the U.S. to shoot down a Syrian government plane for the first time. Russia then warned the U.S. it would shoot down any American or coalition plane that wandered west of the Euphrates River in an escalation of the stand-off over Syria.