White House, Kremlin, aim for Biden-Putin summit in Geneva

Politics

President Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and the Kremlin are working to arrange a summit next month between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland, according to officials.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is meeting with his Russian counterpart in Geneva, the proposed host city, this week to finalize details, according to one official familiar with the preliminary planning but not authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly. Geneva is now expected to be the choice for Biden first face-to-face meeting with Putin as president, according to a second official.

An official announcement was expected in the coming days.

The summit would come at the end of Biden’s first foreign trip as president, a week-long swing through Europe that includes a stop in the United Kingdom for a Group of Seven summit of leaders of the world’s richest nations, and then a visit to the Brussels headquarters of NATO, the longstanding military alliance built as a bulwark to Russian aggression.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council declined to comment on the summit logistics.

But, in a statement, the NSC said this week’s meeting between Sullivan and the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, “was an important step in the preparation for a planned U.S.-Russia summit” and deemed the discussions “constructive” despite “outstanding differences.”

The Biden first administration called for the summit last month after Russia engaged in a series of confrontational actions: temporarily amassing troops on the Ukrainian border, the SolarWinds hacking, reports of bounties placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Putin alleged Thursday that some of the country’s foreign foes dream about biting off pieces of the country’s vast territory, warning that Moscow would “knock their teeth out” if they ever try. (Sergei Ilyin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Reporting by Matthew Lee, Jamey Keaten reporting from Geneva, and Jonathan Lemire reporting from New York. AP writers Josh Boak and Aamer Madhani contributed reporting.

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