WASHINGTON: The White House considers the planned meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on June 16 Geneva both necessary and important.
Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in Washington on Monday that the US President was meeting his Russian counterpart not “despite” but precisely because of the two countries’ differences, reports dpa news agency.
“We do not regard a meeting with the Russian president as a reward. We regard it as a vital part of defending America’s interests and America’s values,” Sullivan said. The meeting will be taking place after Biden will have consulted with the heads of state and government of the G7 countries, NATO and the EU in the days before.
The timing for the summit with Putin could therefore hardly be better. “When President Biden returns to Washington next week, we believe that we will be in a materially stronger position to manage the major threats and challenges this country faces,” Sullivan said.
The Adviser also stressed that nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting between heads of government.
This is especially true for Putin, who has a “highly personalized style of decision making”. Therefore, he said, it was important for Biden “to sit down with (Putin) face to face” and be clear about US expectations. Talking directly to Putin is also “the most effective way to understand what Russia intends and plans”.
On June 16, the US and Russian Presidents are scheduled to meet in Geneva. It is the first meeting since Biden took office in January and comes at a time of great tension between Washington and Moscow.
Biden will begin the first foreign trip of his presidency later this week.
He will visit the UK from Wednesday to June 13 to attend the G7 Summit and hold bilateral meetings with the group’s leaders. The President will then travel to Brussels, Belgium to participate in the NATO Summit, and then to Geneva for his meeting with Putin.
Relations between Washington and Moscow have been adversarial in recent years. The two sides have obvious differences on issues related to Ukraine, cybersecurity, human rights, and US election interference.