President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet face-to-face in Geneva on June 16, their first summit as Biden looks for what he calls a more "stable, predictable relationship" despite the many points of conflict between the two nations.
Biden will sit down with Putin on the back end of his first foreign trip as president, following a G7 meeting in the United Kingdom and a NATO summit in Belgium, a source familiar with the meeting told reporters, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The source said the summit isn't expected to lead to any major new policy agreements, but the two presidents will go into the session with a lengthy agenda: nuclear arms control, climate change, and Russia's aggressive attempts to interfere in foreign elections, among other topics.
It will be the first standalone U.S.-Russia summit since President Trump's infamous meeting with Putin in Helsinki in 2018, when Trump drew broad condemnation from leaders in both parties for publicly siding with Putin as the Russian president denied U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump last met with Putin in June 2019 on the sidelines of the G20 in Osaka.
Biden and his foreign policy advisers regularly speak about taking a more "clear-eyed" view of Putin's attempts to destabilize democracies, exert pressure on Ukraine and other regional neighbors, and crack down on dissidents within Russian borders. But Biden has also called for a more "stable, predictable" relationship between the two countries.
As part of that latter effort, Biden gave Putin a private heads-up before announcing a recent round of sanctions against Russia, and used the same meeting to ask for an in-person summit.
Biden has long valued face-to-face interactions with other leaders, and framed most foreign policy decisions as an extension of personal relationships. Despite being fully vaccinated before taking office, Biden stuck to strict COVID-19 protocols in the early months of his presidency, in part to model safe behavior to Americans. As a result, he had to resort to virtual meetings with other world leaders, which were sometimes marred by technical glitches and awkward video setups.
Biden has since hosted in-person White House meetings with heads of government from Japan and South Korea. The June European trip, culminating in the Geneva summit, will mark Biden's most extensive opportunity yet for the type of in-person diplomacy he had long practiced as vice president and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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