Donald Trump and the country’s top elected Republican say they have taken “a very positive step toward unification” of the party after their first meeting.

The high stakes conclave came a week after House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said he was “just not ready” to endorse his own party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Republican lawmakers are increasingly urging the establishment to rally round their unlikely standard bearer and focus on the battle against probable Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November’s election.

Mr Trump and Mr Ryan released a joint statement after Thursday morning’s meeting at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington DC.

Anti-Trump protester Vaca demonstrates outside RNC headquarters in Washington

A small group of protesters gathered outside Republican HQ

It said they had a “great conversation”.

“While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground,” said the statement.

“We will be having additional discussions, but remain confident there’s a great opportunity to unify our party and win this fall, and we are totally committed to working together to achieve that goal.”

Mr Trump, who was for years a registered Democrat, also met Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who have both backed Mr Trump.

Mr Priebus said afterwards there had been “very good chemistry” between Mr Trump and Mr Ryan.

On Thursday, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the chamber’s longest serving Republican, said he would now support Mr Trump.

Mr Ryan, 46, took up the Speakership last October, pledging to soften the party’s image and reach out to minority groups that traditionally vote Democratic.

But many Republicans have watched in despair as Mr Trump has made controversial remarks about Mexicans and women and called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US.

Analysts say Mr Ryan may also privately fear losing his job if Mr Trump leads the Republican party to heavy losses in the general election.

The House Speaker was the running mate with 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who is a fierce critic of Mr Trump.

Meanwhile, the Clinton team has been seeking to counter Mr Trump’s portrayal of her as “Crooked Hillary” by demanding he release his tax returns.