Biden and Putin to meet in Geneva on 16 June


Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will meet in Geneva, Switzerland on 16 June, the White House has announced.

A statement from press secretary Jen Psaki says the two leaders will “discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the US-Russia relationship”.

The highly anticipated face-to-face meeting will take place near the end of Mr Biden’s first international trip, which will also see him attend the G7 conference in the UK.

Asked about the meeting during Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Ms Psaki said: “We don’t regard the meeting with the Russian president as a reward. We regard it as a vital part of defending America’s interests.”

“This is how diplomacy works. We don’t meet with people only when we agree,” she added in response to Republican criticism of the planned summit.

“President Biden is meeting with Vladimir Putin because of our country’s differences, not in spite of that, it’s an opportunity to raise concerns we have them, and again to move toward a more stable and predictable relationship with the Russian government.”

Details of the meeting are still being formalised, but National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is in Geneva this week to meet with his Russian counterpart.

Ms Psaki said there are no preconditions for the meeting. She added that there will be readouts provided, and unlike when Mr Putin met Mr Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, there will be other government officials in the room.

A wide range of topics are likely to be on the agenda, from Covid-19 to nuclear proliferation, and Russian interference in US elections to the climate crisis.

Mr Biden is also likely this week to raise the actions of Russian ally Belarus, which sparked outrage by forcing a civilian aircraft to land so an opposition journalist could be arrested.

Concerns over the sovereign integrity of Ukraine will also likely be brought up as Russian troops mass on the border.

There are no great expectations from the meeting, but it is seen as more of an opportunity for the two leaders to build a rapport and gain insight into any areas where progress might be possible in the difficult relationship between the two countries.

When the two men met during the first term of the Obama administration in 2011, Mr Biden famously told the Russian leader during a tour of the Kremlin: “I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.”

Mr Putin is said to have responded: “We understand one another.”

The meeting will come after Mr Biden joins his G7 counterparts for the group’s 47th summit, to be held at Carbis Bay, St Ives in Cornwall on 11-13 June. He will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders including Boris Johnson.

Mr Biden will then travel to Nato Headquarters in Brussels for the security organisation’s annual summit on 14 June covering transatlantic cooperation and collective defence.

While in the Belgian capital the president will also participate in a US-EU Summit, before travelling on to Switzerland.



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