In normal times, we, on behalf of the Writers for Peace Committee of PEN International, would welcome with excitement a summit meeting between the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation. Sadly, we cannot be confident that today’s meeting of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will serve the purposes of peace and truth.
We believe that the meeting has more to do with their personal inclinations than with the peaceful interests of their countries and the world.
By their words and actions, both men have demonstrated their disdain for decency and their lack of respect for the international agencies of peace. They have shrugged off human rights and freedom of expression as minor irritants to their assertion of power.
They are not alone in this but, as leaders of two of the world's most influential countries, their cynicism has consequences – potentially encouraging other autocratic-minded leaders to adopt the role of the bully. In the playground it is hurtful. In global politics it is dangerous and a stain on their nations.
Unfortunately, it has become clear that President Trump regards peace and serious diplomacy as signs of weakness, not of civilised behaviour. President Putin has shown similar disregard over more than two decades.
We call on both Presidents to abandon their posturing, behave with dignified maturity, treat fellow leaders and opponents with respect, champion free discourse, and learn that their interests and lasting reputations lie in truth, tolerance and genuine peace.
President, Writers for Peace Committee,
Emmanuel Pierrat, Sheng Xue, Simon Mundy.