The Jerusalem Post

Biden, Putin agree at ‘pragmatic’ summit to resume arms control talks

US leader: I told him agenda wasn’t against Russia, but for Americans


GENEVA (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at a “pragmatic” first summit on Wednesday to resume arms control talks and to return ambassador­s to each other’s capitals after they were withdrawn earlier this year.

The discussion­s at the lakeside Villa La Grange in Geneva lasted less than four hours – far less than Biden’s advisers had said they expected.

Putin, 68, called Biden, 78, a constructi­ve, experience­d partner, and said they spoke “the same language,” but added that there had been no friendship, rather a pragmatic dialogue about their two countries’ interests.

Biden said he had “told President Putin we need some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by,” adding: “I did what I came to do.”

The scheduling of separate news conference­s meant there was none of the joviality that accompanie­d a 2018 meeting in Helsinki between Putin and Biden’s predecesso­r, Donald Trump, where the Russian leader presented Trump with a soccer ball. There was also no shared meal.

Putin, who was first to brief reporters, said the meeting had been constructi­ve and without hostility, and had shown the leaders’ desire to understand each other.

He said it was “hard to say” if relations with the United States would improve, but that there was a “glimpse of hope” regarding mutual trust. There were no invitation­s to Washington or Moscow.

Biden, speaking shortly afterward, said there was “no substitute for face-to-face dialogue,” and that he had told Putin his agenda was “not against Russia” but “for the American people.”

He also said the discussion­s had spent a great deal of time on arms control and on cyberattac­ks, where he had told Putin that “critical infrastruc­ture should be off-limits.”

In perhaps his strongest remark, he said the consequenc­es would be “devastatin­g for Russia” if jailed opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny dies.

Both men said Russia and the United States share a responsibi­lity for nuclear stability, and would hold talks on possible changes to their recently extended New START arms limitation treaty.

Putin showed little appetite for compromise on a range of other issues, dismissing Washington’s concerns about Navalny’s arrest; Russia’s increased military presence near Ukraine’s eastern border; and US suggestion­s that unidentifi­ed Russians are responsibl­e for a series of cyberattac­ks in the United States.

Putin said Navalny had ignored the law and had known what would happen if he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had received treatment for an attempt inside Russia to kill him with poison. He also accused Kyiv of breaking the terms of a ceasefire agreement with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin leader said Washington and Moscow would start consultati­ons on cybersecur­ity, adding that most cyberattac­ks on Russia came from the United States.

He said Biden had raised human rights issues and also the fate of US citizens jailed in Russia. Putin said he believed some compromise­s could be

found, although he gave no indication of any prisoner exchange deal.

ARMS CONTROL is, however, one domain where progress has historical­ly been possible despite

 ?? (Saul Loeb/Reuters) ?? US PRESIDENT Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are about to shake hands after arriving for the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva yesterday.
(Saul Loeb/Reuters) US PRESIDENT Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are about to shake hands after arriving for the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva yesterday.

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