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16 Jun, 2021 12:55

‘I hope our meeting will be productive’: Putin & Biden share handshake, photo-op and optimistic words before high-stakes summit

‘I hope our meeting will be productive’: Putin & Biden share handshake, photo-op and optimistic words before high-stakes summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden have exchanged a handshake and pleasantries before their landmark summit in the Swiss city of Geneva, their first meeting since Biden's January inauguration.

The two heads of state were met by Swiss President Guy Parmelin at Villa La Grange, a historic 18th-century villa with a beautiful view of Lake Geneva. Parmelin made a short speech, in French, to welcome his guests. Both leaders listened as the opening remarks were translated into Russian and then English.

“I would like to welcome you to Geneva, the city of peace. It is an honor and a pleasure for Switzerland to host you here for the summit, and in accordance with its tradition of good offices, promote dialogue and mutual understanding,” Parmelin said.

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“I wish you both presidents a fruitful dialogue in the interest of your two countries and the world. Best wishes and goodbye,” he concluded.

Putin and Biden then came together and posed for a photo while shaking hands, before walking inside the villa and taking a seat in the library, the location of the two presidents' first meeting, alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Before the meeting began, both Putin and Biden exchanged public pleasantries.

“I'd like to thank you for your initiative to meet today,” Putin said. “Russia and US relations have a lot of issues accumulated that require the highest level meeting, and I hope that our meeting will be productive.”

In response, Biden agreed, noting “it's always better to meet face-to-face.”

After the comments, journalists were ushered out of the room, and private discussions began.

The two leaders are due to discuss a wide range of topics, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Eastern Ukraine, and the fight against cybercrime. They will also discuss other areas for cooperation, such as climate change, the Arctic, and the Middle East.

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