Mon, 26 Jul 2021

With Russian-U.S. relations at a low not seen since the Cold War, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are meeting in Geneva on June 16 for their first summit -- just months after the U.S. president said he believes his Russian counterpart is a killer.

Biden and Putin stood outside the Villa de la Grange with Swiss President Guy Parmelin, who welcomed the two leaders and wished them a 'fruitful dialogue.'

Biden and Putin then shook hands before heading inside first for a meeting that will only include U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, plus translators. They'll then move to larger talks, which will include more senior aides and are expected to last hours.

The summit comes as Putin continues to consolidate his dominance of the country's political system, squeezing opposition activists like Aleksei Navalny and throttling independent media and NGOs ahead of Russia's September parliamentary elections.

A spokeswoman for Biden, the fifth U.S. president to meet with Putin, said the White House was 'neither seeking to reset our relations with Russia, nor are we seeking to escalate.' But Biden is also taking a sharper tack than his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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