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19 Apr, 2021 11:09

Only ‘in the right circumstances’: US National Security Advisor Sullivan says possible Biden-Putin meeting not yet ‘on the books’

Only ‘in the right circumstances’: US National Security Advisor Sullivan says possible Biden-Putin meeting not yet ‘on the books’

A meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has still not been agreed, America’s top security official has revealed, adding that it’ll only happen if it can “move the relationship forward.”

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan refused "to get into hypotheticals about when or whether a summit would likely occur," noting that no plans had yet been made. Last Tuesday, in a phone call with the Kremlin, Biden proposed that the two leaders meet "in a third country" to discuss "the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia."

"There isn't currently a summit on the books," Sullivan explained. "It's something we're talking about. And that summit would have to take place, of course, in the right circumstances in a way that could actually move the relationship forward."

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In recent weeks, the dialogue between Russia and the US has become fraught. Following Biden's invitation to meet, Washington imposed sanctions on Moscow for allegedly interfering with the 2020 US presidential election, as well as for supposedly being behind the large SolarWinds cyberattack. In response, Russia expelled ten US diplomats and officials revealed that they were looking into further measures.

In the same interview, Sullivan also discussed possible further repercussions for Russia if opposition figure Alexey Navalny were to die in prison. According to his supporters, Navalny is in a dire state of health, with the spokeswoman for his activist group FBK, Kira Yarmysh, describing him as "dying." Sullivan says Russia "will be held accountable by the international community" if the activist dies behind bars.

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"In terms of the specific measures that we would take, we are looking at a variety of different costs that we would impose, and I'm not going to telegraph that publicly at this point," he explained. "But we have communicated that there will be consequences if Mr Navalny dies."

Sullivan has been in his role as National Security Adviser since January. He'd previously served as an assistant to then-Vice President Biden, and was once Barack Obama's Director of Policy Planning.

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