Biden, Putin conclude summit after hours of talks in Geneva

Thursday, June 17th, 2021 00:00 | By
US President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meet at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva yesterday. Photo/AFP

Geneva, Wednesday

US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin concluded their Geneva summit, bringing to an end the first meeting between the pair since Biden took office in January.

The talks on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, lasted about four hours, according to the White House.

Addressing reporters following the meeting, Putin said the talks were “constructive”. 

He said he and Biden had agreed the US and Russia would return their respective ambassadors to their posts in a bid to lower tensions between the countries.

Ambassador recalled

Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was recalled from Washington about three months ago after Biden described Putin as a killer.

US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow almost two months ago after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations.

Prior to the summit, expectations for any substantial breakthroughs had been low, with Moscow and Washington both openly cool on the prospects of major progress.

The pair are currently at odds over a range of issues from arms control and cyber-hacking to election interference and Ukraine.

During the press conference, Putin said Moscow and Washington will begin discussions on possible changes to the recently extended New START arms control treaty, adding that the two countries are responsible for nuclear strategic stability.

He also said Russia had provided exhaustive information to the United States on cyber attacks and that the two sides agreed to start “consultations on cybersecurity”.

Regarding Ukraine potential membership in NATO, the Russian leader said there was nothing of substance to discuss. He also accused Kyiv of breaching an agreement to halt a conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Putin became visibly irritated responding to questions from an ABC News reporter, who asked the Russian president about his treatment of political opponents.

“If all of your political opponents are dead, in prison, poisoned... Doesn’t that send the message that you don’t want a political fight?” she asked.

Putin fired back, pointing to the January 6 riots in the US Capitol and said that Russia does not want that sort of “chaos” within its borders.

“People rioted and went into the Congress with political demands,” he said.  - BBC

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