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Putin and Biden start tense Geneva summit talks

  • Putin and Biden start tense Geneva summit talks
    Biden calls US and Russia "two great powers" in appearance with Putin Putin and Biden start tense Geneva summit talks
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Politics
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US President Joe Biden’s remarks at the start of his summit with Vladimir Putin included describing the US and Russia as “two great powers,” a notable elevation of Moscow’s status as he works to create a more stable relationship.

 

US president Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin are having what is expected to be a tense set of talks in Geneva.

The two presidents arrived separately, and were each greeted by Swiss President Guy Parmelin before the three men appeared briefly together outside the venue, the Villa La Grange.

Parmelin welcomed them to “the city of peace” and wished them “fruitful dialogue” in the best interests of both their countries and the world.

The two leaders didn’t say much in front of the press, but Putin told Biden “Mr President, I’d like to thank you for your initiative to meet today,” and Biden replied “It is always better to meet face to face.”

Talks are now expected to last four to five hours. Initially Biden and Putin will hold a relatively intimate meeting joined by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This will then be expanded to include more senior aides on each side.

Topics will include strategic stability, cyber security, climate change and Covid. Putin and Biden also are expected to cover regional crises in Ukraine, Syria and Libya, as well as the Iranian nuclear program and Afghanistan. The treatment of Alexei Navalny, and detained former US marines Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed are also sure to be mentioned.

Following talks there will be separate press appearances by Biden and Putin – scheduled not before noon New York time, 5pm London time, 6pm Geneva time. It is likely we may end the day with two contrasting narratives of how the talks went.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in the room with President Biden for the first session of talks with Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

But as the summit began Blinken was also tweeting about human rights - using the term repeatedly in his post. The topic is expected to come up in Geneva, and it's clear the secretary of state has placed them front and centre in the talks.