President Joe Biden is optimistic that he will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin face-to-face this summer in Europe.
“That is my hope and expectation. We’re working on it,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday.
Biden is flying to the United Kingdom next month to take part in the G-7 summit from June 11-13 and sideline meetings with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other world leaders. He will then travel to Brussels, Belgium, for the NATO summit on June 14 before a separate United States–European Union summit.
Biden invited Putin in April during their second phone conversation after Biden’s inauguration to meet him in person in a neutral third country. The pair spoke before Biden’s swearing-in when Biden, a onetime Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, was President Barack Obama’s vice president.
“I was candid and respectful. The conversation was candid and respectful,” Biden said of their talk at the time.
The invitation coincided with Biden rolling out sanctions against Russia for trying to undermine U.S. elections, cyberattacks against the U.S. government and companies, and its treatment of dissidents and journalists, such as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Biden also expelled 10 Washington-based Russian diplomats, some of whom the administration contends were spy service representatives.
Biden has indicated he wants a “stable and predictable” relationship with Putin but also warned he would introduce harsher penalties in response to future aggressive behavior.
“If Russia continues to interfere with our democracy, I’m prepared to take further actions to respond. It is my responsibility as president of the United States to do so,” Biden said.
Biden referenced the meeting on Tuesday after a White House address focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. In his speech, he announced his new goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one shot by July 4.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is actually growing brighter and brighter,” he said.
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