Biden and Putin will hold their first summit in Geneva in June

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold their first summit in Geneva next month, both sides said Tuesday, paving the way for a new chapter in their fraught relationship.

The meeting in the Swiss city will take place on June 16, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“The leaders will discuss all urgent issues as we try to restore predictability and stability in the US-Russia relationship,” she said.

The Kremlin confirmed the details of the summit, saying in a statement that Putin and Biden would discuss “issues of strategic stability” as well as “resolving regional conflicts” and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden, who is making his first international journey as president, will head to Geneva immediately after separate summits with his main Western allies in the G7, NATO and the European Union.

The face-to-face meeting with the Kremlin leader takes place amid tensions not seen for years, with Washington now turning its ambitions back to little more than establishing a relationship where both sides understand each other and can work together in specific areas.

Since taking office, Biden has launched new sanctions against Moscow over what US authorities say, Russia’s role in Solar Winds’ large-scale cyberattack and repeated interference in the 2020 presidential election.

Washington has also sharply criticized Moscow for the near-death poisoning and subsequent incarceration of one of Putin’s last open opponents, Alexei Navalny.

And where Biden told an interviewer that he agreed with Putin’s description as a “murderer,” the Russian government has formally declared the United States an “unfriendly” country.

Moves to relieve tension

The outright accusations are a long way from the often-puzzling relationship between Trump and Putin.

The Geneva Summit comes nearly three years after Trump famously took the Kremlin leader’s side over US intelligence over whether Moscow was interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.

However, both sides are working to calm the waters ahead of the Geneva Summit, with the White House emphasizing its hope of working with Russia on well-defined strategic issues such as nuclear weapons control and the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

To prepare the ground, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Secretary of State veteran Sergei Lavrov met last week in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the Blinken-Lavrov meeting that repairing tires “will not be easy”, but he saw “a positive signal”.

Moscow welcomed a US decision to renounce sanctions that delayed the completion of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline – a major energy supply route from Russia to Europe that US officials will worry about the EU becoming too dependent on the Russians .

(AFP)

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