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Biden to hold solo press conference after Putin meeting
President Biden will hold a solo press conference next week following his first in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since taking office.
The White House said Saturday that it is still finalizing details for the format of the meeting between the two leaders in Geneva but confirmed plans for Biden's solo press conference as well as plans for a working session and smaller session between top U.S. and Russian officials.
"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 - both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns," a White House official said.
The solo press conference is a notable departure from the 2018 summit between then-President Trump and Putin in Helsinki. The two appeared together at a joint press conference that quickly descended into controversy when Trump, standing next to Putin, doubted the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Biden has been decidedly tougher than Trump in his rhetoric toward Putin and is expected to confront the Russian president on a raft of issues when the two meet in Geneva on Wednesday. These issues include Russia's actions in cyberspace, the poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the country's continued provocations in Ukraine since the 2014 seizure of the Crimean Peninsula.
At the same time, Biden also wants to see if the U.S. can work with Russia on issues of mutual concern such as nuclear arms control, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked by reporters on Friday what his message would be to Putin, Biden replied, "I'll tell you after I deliver it."
The White House has set low expectations for the meeting, saying Biden's goal is to put the U.S. on a path to a more "predictable" and "stable" relationship with Russia.
Putin in a recent interview with NBC News called Trump a "colorful" and "extraordinary" individual but signaled he could work with Biden.
Biden will meet with Putin after participating in a Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, England, and meeting with NATO and European Union leaders in Brussels. The trip is Biden's first abroad since taking office, and he is hoping it will strengthen U.S. alliances in Europe, particularly after four unpredictable and tumultuous years of foreign policy under Trump.