'Two great powers': Biden, Putin plunge into hours of talks | www.WDIO.com

'Two great powers': Biden, Putin plunge into hours of talks

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin open their face-to-face talks in Switzerland. U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin open their face-to-face talks in Switzerland. |  Photo: WDIO File

Updated: June 16, 2021 02:20 PM
Created: June 16, 2021 09:30 AM

GENEVA (AP) - U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin opened their face-to-face talks at a lush lakeside Swiss mansion for the highly anticipated summit at a time when both leaders agree that relations between their countries are at an all-time low.

Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the tone of the talks with U.S. President Joe Biden as “constructive” and said there was no hostility during the talks. His remarks came at a news conference Wednesday after he and Biden met in Geneva for a high-stakes summit amid tensions between the West and the Kremlin.

President Biden says that he is “not going to walk away” from the plight of two Americans detained in Russia. Speaking to reporters, Biden says he raised the imprisonment of Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed in his meeting with Putin. Biden said: “We discussed it. I’m going to follow through with that discussion.” Putin opened the door to possible discussions about a prisoner swap with the U.S. for the release of the Americans and said those conversations would continue. 

Putin says the two leaders agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts. The return of ambassadors follows a diplomatic tug-of-war that saw deep cuts in diplomatic personnel. Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was recalled from Washington about three months ago after Biden described Putin as a killer. 

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

The two leaders agreed to begin consultations to replace the last remaining treaty between the two countries limiting nuclear weapons. 

Biden and Putin agreed to start consultations on cybersecurity. Putin said after the meeting, “We believe that cybersecurity is important for the world in general, for the U.S. in particular, and for Russia as well.”

Putin charged that “most of the cyberattacks in the world are carried out from the cyber realm of the United States,” with Canada and Britain coming second and third. While the U.S., Canada and Britain all engage in cyberespionage, the most damaging cyberattacks on record have come either from state-backed Russian hackers or Russian-speaking ransomware criminals who operate with impunity in Russia and allied nations.

Putin said their summit talks Wednesday were anything but hostile, though the leaders have exchanged barbed comments in recent months. 

The two sides had said they expected to meet for four to five hours but spent less than three hours together, including an opening meeting with just the two presidents and each one’s top foreign aide. 

Putin said: “Our assessment of many issues differ, but in my view both sides demonstrated the desire to understand each other and looks for ways to get closer." He called the talks with Biden “rather constructive.”

When it was over, Putin had first crack at describing  the results at a solo news conference.

Earlier, Biden called it a discussion between “two great powers” and said it was “always better to meet face to face.” Putin, for his part, said he hoped the talks would be “productive.”

According to the Associated Press, the two sat down in a book-lined room in a somewhat awkward start to their meeting, with both appearing to avoid looking directly at each other during a brief photo opportunity before a scrum of reporters.  



Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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