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Biden, Putin handshake kicks off Geneva summit

GENEVA: Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin kicked off their summit Wednesday with a handshake outside the Geneva villa where the two presidents plan to confront each other over the worst US-Russia tensions in years.
Following an introduction by their host, Swiss President Guy Parmelin, Biden extended his arm for his first handshake with Putin since taking office in January.
“It’s always better to meet face to face,” Biden said as the two men sat down with their top diplomats, kicking off the summit, where ghosts of the Cold War hovered over modern-day US concerns about Russian cyberattacks and what the White House sees as a dangerous authoritarian drift.
Striking a positive note, Putin said he hoped the “meeting will be productive” as the tete-a-tete opened.
The setting — a sumptuous villa overlooking Lake Geneva — may be picturesque, but a gruelling diplomatic face-off that could last up to five hours awaits, with no food breaks planned.
“There will be no breaking of bread,” a senior US official said. Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on 16th of June the bloc needs to “push back, constrain and engage” Moscow, as the leaders of Russia and the US met in Geneva.
“We believe that a renewed partnership, allowing us to realise the full potential of a close cooperation with Russia is a distant prospect and the EU, therefore, needs to be realistic and prepare for a further downturn of our relation with Russia,” Borrell said.
He said Brussels’ approach must now be to “push back, constrain and engage with” Moscow as he presented a new report detailing a strategy to build a “more predictable and stable relationship” with the Kremlin.
Ties between Russia and the 27-nation union have hit a fresh low after the EU sanctioned Moscow over the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the Russian authorities hit back by targeting officials in Brussels.
EU leaders — who will debate the report at a summit next week — are looking to fashion a common approach to their giant eastern neighbour despite splits between some members over how to handle Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Time and again, the European Union has demonstrated unity despite attempts by Russia to divide us, and this unity remains our biggest asset and needs to be even more robust,” Borrell said.
The unveiling of the EU’s strategy on Russia came as US President Joe Biden sat down with Putin for a hotly-anticipated meeting in Switzerland.
Biden — who jetted to meet his Russian counterpart after meetings with allies in Brussels — has vowed to lay down “red lines” to Putin to halt Moscow’s aggressive behaviour. | YouTube Channel

Nimra Jamali

Nimra Jamali, presently studying in London, writes on international politics for