US downplays expectations for Biden-Putin summit

Washington, Jun 13 (EFE).- Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday downplayed expectations for the summit next week between President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, warning that the meeting will not ameliorate the multiple tensions in the US-Russian relationship overnight.

“This is not going to be a flip the light switch moment,” Blinken told CNN on Sunday. “What the president is going to make clear to President Putin is we seek a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia.”

At the summit, to be held in Geneva, Blinken said that Biden intends to look for areas where the interests of the two nations coincide and where they can work together.

However, the top US diplomat said that if the Kremlin continues with its “reckless and aggressive actions,” the US will respond “forcefully as the president has already demonstrated that he would when it comes to election interference, or the Solar Winds cyber attack, or the attempt to murder … (Russian opposition leader Alexei) Navalny with a chemical weapon.”

Navalny fell dengerously ill on a domestic flight in Russia in August 2020, after which he was sent to Germany for treatment, where he was diagnosed as having been poisoned with the Russian-made nerve agent Novichok.

Biden on Sunday at a press conference in the United Kingdom after the G7 summit, in which he took part, said that he could not guarantee that he would be able to change Putin’s attitude, noting that “autocrats” have an enormous amount of power and don’t need to respond to the public.

Biden said that he agreed with Putin that the bilateral relationship is at a “low point,” but he insisted that he is not looking for conflict with Russia.

The Geneva summit next Wednesday will be the first top level meeting between the leaders of the two countries since Putin and former President Donald Trump met in Helsinki in July 2018.

After that encounter, Trump at a joint press conference publicly ignored the conclusions of US intelligence agencies and said that he believed the Russian leader when Putin said that Moscow did not interfere in the 2016 elections, a stance that sparked heated controversy.

On this occasion, Biden has decided not to hold a joint press conference with Putin, in contrast to Trump, and will respond to questions from reporters alone because, as he said on Sunday, he does not want the exchange with media representatives to become a “contest” with the Russian leader.

“I always found, and I don’t mean to suggest the press should not know, but this is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass one another,” Biden said Sunday at his presser at Cornwall Airport Newquay, adding: “It’s about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship with Russia.”

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