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7 Dec, 2021 15:55

First images released from crucial Putin & Biden summit (VIDEO)

First images released from crucial Putin & Biden summit (VIDEO)

Talks have begun between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden, with the pair expected to discuss a range of issues, including how to de-escalate a worsening standoff over Ukraine.

Speaking via a secure video link on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that “we didn’t get to see one another at the G20 – I hope next time we meet we do it in person.” The Russian president only spoke virtually at the October meeting of world leaders, the Kremlin then citing the worsening Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Following the televised introductions, the pair are due to hold talks in private, with Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, saying the discussion will go on “for as long as it takes.” A number of areas are understood to be on the agenda, including US fears that Russia is preparing an invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which Moscow has consistently denied.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that “contact is badly needed, we have multiplying problems. There is no progression on bilateral affairs, which are more and more spiraling into a phase of acute crisis.”

The two presidents met in June for a summit in the Swiss city of Geneva, with Putin hailing the talks as “constructive,” while Biden praised his counterpart as a “statesman.” Aides said that positive undertakings had been made around nuclear proliferation and on handling the Covid-19 pandemic. However, hopes for a thaw in relations appear to have stalled since then, with each side accusing the other of military escalations in Eastern Europe.

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