Disagreements, low expectations as Biden, Putin meet in Geneva
Leaders remain at odds over issues from arms control and cyber-hacking to election interference and Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are holding their first meeting since Biden took office with wide disagreements likely and expectations low for any breakthroughs.
The pair exchanged a brief handshake in front of reporters on Wednesday in Geneva, before entering a stately lakeside villa for talks.
Putin said he hoped for a “productive” meeting, while Biden said it was “always better to meet face to face”.
The meeting in a book-lined room had a somewhat awkward beginning — both men appeared to avoid looking directly at each other during a brief and chaotic photo opportunity before a scrum of jostling reporters.
Biden nodded when a reporter asked if Putin could be trusted, but the White House quickly sent out a tweet insisting that the president was “very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally.”
Putin ignored shouted questions from reporters, including if he feared jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.
Both world had said earlier that they hoped their discussions lead to more stable and predictable relations, even though they remain at odds over everything from arms control and cyber-hacking to election interference and Ukraine.
In the hours leading up to the highly anticipated summit, Washington and Moscow were cool on the prospects for significant progress.
“We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting,” a senior United States official told reporters on board Air Force One as Biden flew to Geneva.
The talks are expected to last four to five hours.
“I’m not sure that any agreements will be reached,” said Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov.