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Biden declines to hold joint news briefing after meeting Putin

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden (Photo by AFP)

US President Joe Biden will not hold a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin following their upcoming summit in Geneva in efforts to avoid the unfavorable impression his predecessor Donald Trump left after meeting Putin in 2018.

“We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward, and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting", a White House official declared in a Saturday statement, cited by the New York Times daily.

The report further cited Biden administration officials as saying that the president’s top aides were wary about holding a joint press conference and wanted to avoid the scenario of the Helsinki summit in 2018, when Trump agreed with Putin's remarks about non-interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, dismissing data presented by his country’s National Intelligence Agency.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, announced later on Saturday that it is aware of Biden's plans to hold a solo press conference in Geneva following his talks with Putin, Sputnik News reported, citing spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that the Russian president would hold his own press briefing as well.

"This is most likely the American president's general practice. As we know, the US president also held a separate press conference in England,” Peskov said. “They did not hold a joint press conference with [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson. We also learned that Mr Biden is planning to hold a separate press conference [after meeting with Putin]. As we said earlier, after the talks are over, President Putin will also go out separately to talk to the press.”

This is while a US official was quoted in local press reports as saying that the summit meeting in Geneva on Wednesday is expected to be “candid and straightforward.”

The White House further declared that the meeting would involve “a working session and a smaller session”, without elaborating as Washington has insisted for weeks now that its aim is to make relations between the two countries more “stable and predictable.”

Biden, meanwhile, stated at the start of his eight-day visit to Europe this week that “We’re not seeking conflict with Russia.”

“We want a stable and predictable relationship … but I’ve been clear: the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities,” he then emphasized.

Putin, as well, insisted during an interview ahead of his talks with Biden that US-Russia relations stood at their lowest point in years.

“We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years,” Putin said during the interview with the US-based NBC News.

While Putin characterized Trump as “an extraordinary individual, talented individual”, but impulsive, he described Biden as a career politician that was “radically different” from the “colorful” Trump.

“It is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting US president,” he said, according to the translation of the interview released by NBC News.

Asked about Biden calling him a killer in an interview in March, Putin further said he had heard dozens of such accusations, adding, “This is not something I worry about in the least,” dismissing it as part of “macho behavior” common in Hollywood.

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