US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded their meetings in Geneva on Wednesday, the White House said.
The two met for about four hours, first in a session with a few people, then in another session with the participation of more officials from both parties and lasted about 65 minutes.
The two leaders plan to hold separate press conferences before heading to the summit venue.
The summit began with stern expressions and polite words in front of the cameras, at a time when the relationship between the two countries was at an all-time low.
Biden described it as a meeting “between two superpowers” and stressed that “it is always better to meet face to face.” For his part, Putin expressed his hope that the talks would be “productive.”
Meeting in a room full of books was a rather awkward start: both leaders tried to avoid meeting each other’s eyes during a chaotic session of photographers.
At one point, Biden appeared to nodded when a reporter asked him if he thought Putin could be trusted. After that, the White House insisted on Twitter that Biden “is very clear that he did not respond to a specific question, but that he nodded his head to acknowledge the press.”
Putin shrugged off questions journalists were shouting, including a question if he feared imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The two leaders shook hands — Biden extended first, smiling while the Russian leader maintained his stoic expression — and also shook hands with Swiss President Guy Parmelin, who welcomed them to the summit.
Biden and Putin were scheduled to meet for four to five hours for talks on a wide range of topics.
For months, the two exchanged harsh accusations. Biden accused Putin of endorsing cyber attacks and undemocratic behavior by imprisoning the opposition leader and interfering in North American elections.
For his part, Putin responded by pointing to the January 6 attack on the Capitol in Washington as evidence that the United States had no right to teach others democratic standards, and insisting that Russia did not interfere in any elections, despite American intelligence. say otherwise.
Shortly before the summit, the two sides tried to cool expectations, although Biden said it would be an important step if Washington and Moscow could finally find “stability and predictability” in their relationship, a seemingly modest goal for a president dealing with whom. considers himself. One of the strongest competitors in the country.
“We have to decide where it is in our common interest, in the interest of the world, that we cooperate and see if we can do that,” Biden told reporters earlier in the week. “And in the areas where we do not agree, make clear what the red lines are.”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, warned hours before the summit that the summit “will not be easy” and is likely to show no progress. The issues on his broad agenda are “mostly problematic.”
We have many issues that we have put aside for a long time and we must analyze them. That is why President Putin comes up with an attitude of asking questions honestly and constructively and trying to find solutions. ”
The conditions under which the Summit will be held are precisely defined and negotiated by the parties.
Biden was the first to suggest holding the summit, during a phone conversation in April in which he told Putin that the United States would expel several Russian diplomats and impose sanctions, in response to Russian interference in the US election and hacking of various agencies. federation.
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