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Historic talks between Biden and Putin underway in Geneva

AP

The highest-stakes talks of President Joe Biden’s long career began Wednesday in Geneva, where he and Russia’s Vladimir Putin shook hands and immediately began a summit set to test his decades of experience on the world stage and lay down an early marker of his diplomatic skills.

Inside a book-lined study with a large globe separating them, each wore a serious expression as they delivered perfunctory opening remarks. They spoke through translators and didn’t seem to look at each other directly.

Biden said he was seeking a “predictable and rational” relationship with Russia, and made reference to the US and Russia as “two great powers,” a notable elevation of Moscow’s status on the world stage.

“I think it’s always better to meet face to face, try to determine where we have mutual interest, cooperate,” Biden said. For his part, Putin thanked Biden for “the initiative to meet” as the pair sat down ahead of their first meeting.

“I know you’ve been on a long journey and have a lot of work,” Putin said. “Still the US and Russia and US relations have a lot of issues accumulated that require the highest-level meeting and I hope that our meeting will be productive.”

When a reporter asked Biden if he trusted Putin, he seemed to nod — though his communication director later said the President was not nodding in response to any particular question.

The first, smaller meeting between Biden and Putin ended about after 3 p.m. local time, with the two leaders spending a little less than two hours together. The first meeting was on the schedule for 80 minutes, so it went only slightly over schedule. The second session was supposed to start at 2:55 p.m. local time, so they appear to be running about 30 minutes over time. That larger meeting is now underway, a White House official says.

Biden and Putin arrived at the summit site on the shores of Lake Geneva in their motorcades shortly after 1 p.m. local time on a hot day in the Swiss city that has previously seen major talks between US and Russian leaders.

The two Presidents stood outside the Villa la Grange with the Swiss President, who made short remarks welcoming the two leaders. They then shook hands and entered the 18th century French-style manor home for their first round of meetings.

Depending on its outcome, the meeting could shadow Biden as he returns home to help revive his domestic agenda. He arrived to the villa bolstered by support from western allies he spent the past week consulting ahead of his face-to-face with the Russian President, who arrived in Geneva Wednesday morning ahead of the summit.

In Biden’s telling, those leaders all backed him in his decision to meet Putin now, in the first six months of his presidency, before he’s had a chance to fully formulate a Russia strategy.

“He’s bright, he’s tough, and I’ve found that he is, as they say when I used to play ball, a worthy adversary,” Biden told reporters of Putin on Monday during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, where he solicited advice from fellow leaders with experience dealing with Putin.

Still, skepticism abounds that anything can be accomplished. At its worse, Biden’s summit could provide elevated stature to a leader who appears intent on testing the limits of international norms and the willingness of the West to respond.

Expectations for the summit are also low among American officials, who have said since the encounter was first announced they didn’t think anything concrete would emerge from it.

Instead, Biden is looking to open lines of communication with the notoriously shrewd Putin in the hopes of stalling further deterioration in relations between the United States and Moscow, which Biden said this week had reached a low point.

Meeting face to face

The Villa la Grange was a hive of activity in anticipation of the most closely watched meeting of Biden’s young presidency. Security was tight, and the building itself has been spruced up with flowers, flags and a red carpet. Two of the windows are open to let a breeze inside, and most of the pale green shutters were open — except for a room on the upper left-hand side, where all the shutters were closed and white screens were obscuring the glass on the front door.

It’s the kind of scene Biden had been itching for after he grew tired of pandemic-forced virtual meetings and phone calls. Biden wanted the benefit of seeing Putin in the flesh, in their first in-person meeting since 2011. Biden has recounted during that meeting he told Putin, inches from his face, that he didn’t believe he had a soul (Putin said in an interview this week he doesn’t remember hearing that).

There are some areas Biden thinks he can work in harmony with Putin, including cooperation on nuclear arms, climate change and shared interest in renewing the Iran nuclear deal. And one outcome officials said was possible was an agreement to return their ambassadors back to Washington and Moscow after months with no senior diplomat in place in either country.

But the areas of dispute far outnumber the areas of agreement, and the bulk of the session is expected to focus on the myriad ways Biden believes Russia is violating international rules.

That includes a recent spate of ransomware attacks cutting across sectors in the United States, launched by criminal syndicates based in Russia. Biden also plans to raise human rights, as Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny remains imprisoned.

Looking for predictability

Officials say Biden’s approach, which he’s outlined broadly, will largely mirror his overall tact with Russia up to this point — one defined by careful calibration and intentional balance. There’s no indication, at least publicly, that the approach has led to any shift in Putin’s behavior.

But Biden’s decision to seek areas of opportunity to work together — the two countries agreed on an extension of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty in the opening weeks after Biden’s inauguration — while also moving to slap sanctions on Russia has outlined the rough model he’ll pursue in the meeting itself, officials say.

Even with the sanctions, Biden made a point of calling Putin in advance to let him know they were coming. That tracks with a deliberate effort Biden has sought to create space for further areas of cooperation as they seek to lay down guardrails for the relationship.

It has plenty of critics — including, two US officials say, within Biden’s own administration. But it also served to lay the groundwork for the critical meeting with Putin himself. And it underscores why Biden, who aides say much prefers face-to-face meetings, decided to move forward with the summit idea in the first place.

Both US and Russian officials said they expected talks to stretch at least five hours. They will be broken up into sections: the first with only the leaders and their respective top diplomats, and a second that expands into delegations of five officials apiece.

Lasting nearly all afternoon, there aren’t plans to share a meal. But breaks will occur, allowing each man to regroup. Both will convene his own news conference afterward, Putin first and then Biden.

Officials entered the talks with the expectation they could extend well past their allotted time.

Indeed, the first sign of whether Biden thinks his approach may be having an effect may come from the meeting logistics themselves.

A senior administration official noted the intensive negotiations over the structure of the Geneva sit-down included an agreement that there would be flexibility built into day.

“We’ve agreed with the other side that there will be some flexibility just so that the leaders can make determinations about the best way to conduct their business,” the official said.

While officials are coy about where that flexibility may lead — if anywhere at all — a decision by Biden and Putin to meet one-on-one, or break out their advisers into separate sessions, may serve as a signal that areas of potential cooperation can be fleshed out or addressed in a more fulsome manner.

Exhaustive preparations

Biden, who has been in intensive preparations for several weeks, dined with his closest foreign policy hands — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan — on Tuesday night.

When the meeting expands, Sullivan is slated to join Biden, along with veteran diplomat Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, and the National Security Council’s top Russia advisers, according to a US official. John Sullivan, the US ambassador to Russia who departed Moscow in April amid raised tensions, is also expected to join.

“I think we’re going to see how the flow goes. This is diplomacy in action,” a senior Biden administration official said. “Get on the ride.”

Russian officials had advocated for a joint press conference, but the Americans were wary of providing a shared platform for what they believe would be attempts by Putin to undermine or even embarrass the US President.

“This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other,” Biden said on Sunday, explaining the decision.

Almost none of the Russia experts Biden consulted ahead of his trip — and there have been dozens — seemed to believe a joint press conference was wise, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Looming over the preparation has been the summit Biden’s predecessor held with Putin in Helsinki, which ended in a joint appearance where former President Trump took Putin’s side on election meddling over US intelligence agencies.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

National & World / National Politics / News

CNN Newsource

Comments

48 Comments

        1. BoZo,
          The emails of Hunter Biden shows the Biden family are in Putin’s back pocket. You know Putin knows exactly what the 3 million was for that was paid to Hunter by the wife of the mayor of Moscow.
          Care to elaborate….BoZo?

      1. Forget for a moment what team you are on. Can you please explain to a commoner like me why it makes sense to close the American XL pipeline and to OK and help through the Russian Nord Stream pipeline. One shuts down energy independence for America, cancels an ongoing project and cost many Americans their good paying energy sector jobs. The other hands energy dominance to a foreign enemy. What side is Joe on? Sometimes the liberal mind is hard to understand.

        1. It actually fairly simple. If your son swings his father’s weight around in a foreign country for money then that country has your cahones whether you like it or not. The “diplomacy” of which Biden speaks is Putin telling Biden what he is going to do in those closed door meeting and Biden agreeing and asking when the next payment is coming. The rest of it is stupid antics for those among us stupid enough to believe him

      1. Tizzo…biden couldn’t even speak a full sentence. He called Putin, trump….HAHAHA….he is in all of your heads forever. Never seen a president drool and mumble so much on a world stage. Sad.
        “120 days….give me a break”. LOL. He so cool. https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4967013/user-clip-biden-120-days-give-break
        AND THIS IS HILARIOUS TOO!!! (For the world to laugh at us).https://nypost.com/2021/06/14/biden-gaffe-at-g-7-summit-sparks-laughter-from-world-leaders/

        He literally said he FORGOT HE WAS PRESIDENT!!!https://www.the-sun.com/news/3049827/biden-forgetting-president-awkward-uk-trip/

  1. After Trumpy acted like a trained puppy dog in Putin’s hands, I think Trumpers should just sit this one out. Really, your guy looked like a whimp.

    1. as far as I know Trump built our energy sector to be the worlds largest energy exporter. So Joe gives it all away to the Russians. In your twisted mind Joe did not give in to the Russians, and Trump did. OK and
      Biden aggressively insulting and demeaning a female reporter while she’s just doing her job, all in front of her colleagues:

  2. This desperate article trying so hard to make Bidumb appear to be a coherent strong leader is insulting at best to the rest of us that are in fact, coherent, aware and intelligent adults.. Great job Barney and KTVCNNZ for keeping the spin and fawning going. You continue to expose yourself for what you are.

    1. Being able to effortlessly tell lies and derogatory comments isn’t a skill Biden’s honed over a lifetime of service performed with honest Christian morals, so he knew it would be better to not share a platform where Trump’s mentor could use KGB/GOP misinformation to get the 15sec news bite that team FOX would lap up and play on repeat for the next two days. Sad for America that you root for the enemy, Comrade.

      1. Brahahahahah!! Biden an “honest Christian” That is a stretch beyond imagination. Get a grip moron. What kind of fantasy world are you living in? BTW I am not a “Trumper” but I am totally embarrassed by Biden as a Democrat. I sat out this “election”.

      2. Keysore….you are joking right? 50 years in politics and he doesn’t lie? Dude, you are so brainwashed, you need to really turn cnn off. BTW, why do you keep bringing up trump? I thought we all moved on? HAHAHA……FACT -TRUMP OWNS SPACE IN YOUR HEAD FOREVER. HAHAHA

  3. Ah, after seeing how Trump licked Putin’s boots at their press conference, Trumpers really need to sit this one out. No one looked weaker than Trump.

  4. Did you idiot Biden supporters listen to Putin’s interview. No pressure or demands on Russia – Really? Tough talking Biden was a coward to Putin. Funny how the US sees the same thing totally different. Our Moron in Chief just made the US more vulnerable. Jill Biden should have taken the meeting instead, she seems smarter than both her husband, and the Vice President.

      1. Where was our idiot President during that interview? He was invited to join, but his handlers declined. It was a one sided interview because the Democrats elected a President that cannot be trusted to answer questions he doesn’t have the answers written down for. Say what you want, but this was the worst meeting the US has ever had with Russia, with the worst President the US has ever had. Has nothing to do with Trump, this is all Biden and his handlers. As for believing Putin, the world certainly will, no rebuttal from our side.

        1. His press conference was much better than your cult leader, actually coherent sentences with no Putin boot licking. Really, Trumpy embarrassed the US, the only thing he didn’t do was climb onto Putin’s lap and call him daddy.

          1. I am so happy you are a Biden supporter, looking forward to your silence when this train finally wrecks. I will be ok, but this will hurt a lot of people. The market has peaked, COVID restrictions went on to long, inflation is going up rapidly, no other country fears the US. This is all Democrats, Can’t blame this on Trump, I know you will try. Look at his numbers prior to COVID. And NO, Biden wouldn’t have managed COVID any better than Trump did, my opinion it would have been worse. These are all opinions on here, most of the truths about Trump have turned out to be false, or mostly false. So will the comments and opinions about Biden. Our country right now is the worse I have ever seen it.

              1. Keyser, I see you are just the same. How is the reality going for you? Gas up $1+/gallon, food, utilities all up, border a complete disaster. Tell me about a win Biden has without mentioning Trump. What has he done that you are so proud that you can have the same admiration for him, as you do hate for Trump. I hope this stays up long enough to see your response.

  5. Really Trumpers, sit this out, the only thing Trump didn’t do was climb onto Putin’s lap and call him daddy. You can’t explain that away with ignorant Trumper language and spin. Oh, and Putin is using Trump’s Insurrection against us, thanks again.

      1. Trump supporters shouldn’t talk about others, we don’t worship a godless narcissistic sociopathic racist lying moron traitor who tried to overthrow the government.

        1. And Trump was president during one of the greatest economic times in the history of the US, developed a COVID vaccine in less than a year with Operation Warpspeed, made us independent of foreign oil and gas, called out China on their lies regarding COVID and banned plane flights from China when everyone else called him crazy, secured our borders more than any other President before him, attacked big Pharma (which got a big backlash from those politicians who are in Big Pharma’s pocket), and made known what a crook Biden’s son is and how it is not in the US best interest to have a high level politicians son being bought off by a foreign superpower. His rhetoric was abysmal but the dude got stuff done. Better than Biden who really does nothing except pose for kindergarten like pictures around the world …….except at the border.

          1. Come on former Rep, where did you get this useful degree? Are you teaching history, or English, great occupation. If you are teaching you probably have your Masters. Tell us buddy, you are an English major, you can write.

  6. Former Republican says: NO, defiantly not ever a true Republican, and certainly never a conservative, I’m thinking one of those people who picks a deferent sports team, every time theirs becomes a looser, but can never pick the right one, and thus always a looser.

    1. Actually, changed to Independent in December, before delusional Trumpys Insurrection. Being a conservative and Republican has nothing to do with blind loyalty to someone like Trump, who isn’t exactly a conservative either, he conned you into believing him. I don’t want a Trump dictatorship, why would you? Because Q told you?

      1. Keyser, Former Republican is an English major, he can bring out a red pen and correct what they wrote. And also a History major, so he can tell you what they wrote last time.

    1. Ashli was one of the Right Wing Domestic Terrorists who attacked the United States Capitol in an attempt to stop a free and fair election and install a gameshow host that isn’t fit to manage an Arby’s as a King for life because Republicans don’t actually care about American Democracy they only care about keeping power in the hands of angry Fascist Boomers. While Ashli was attempting to force her way into the main floor and kill all the Senators, she was shot by security. #FAFO Any more questions I can help you out with?

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