(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16, the White House said Tuesday, in their first face-to-face encounter since Biden took office.
“The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of Biden’s goals for the summit.
The Kremlin also confirmed the date for the much-anticipated meeting.
Earlier this month, Biden was asked whether he was planning to meet with Putin in June when he heads overseas to attend the G-7 summit.
“That is my hope and my expectation. We’re working on it,” Biden said at the time.
In April, the United States announced a sweeping series of sanctions against Russia over election interference, cyber hacking and other “harmful foreign activities,” it said, including reports of Russia offering “bounties” for Taliban attacks against U.S. troops, and Russia’s occupation and alleged human rights abuses in Crimea.
“Our objective here is not to escalate,” Psaki said. “Our objective here is to impose costs for what we feel are unacceptable actions by the Russian government.”
Psaki reiterated that the White House wanted there to be a “stable and predictable relationship” with Russia but conceded “this continues to be a difficult relationship” with “adversarial components.”
After Biden announced the sanctions, Biden and Putin spoke on the phone, and Biden proposed a meeting in a third country.
After Belarus was accused of “hijacking” a civilian airliner on Sunday by forcing a Ryanair passenger flight to land in the country so authorities could arrest a prominent critic of its authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, Psaki was asked whether the incident would cause the U.S. to reconsider a U.S.-Russia summit gven the close relationship between Lukashenko and Putin.
“It does not mean that we will hold back on areas where we have concern, as you’ve seen over the past several weeks, where we have simultaneously issued an invitation to have a meeting while also putting forward sanctions for actions that we find unacceptable. And so certainly, the fact that… our national security adviser raised this issue is evidence of that. We’ll also be having a conversation about how we can move forward on planning on the summit,” Psaki said.
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