Russia announces June date for possible Putin-Biden summit

A summit between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden is expected to take place as early as June, a senior Kremlin official said on Sunday, in the hope that face-to-face talks between the two leaders will become easier. increased tension between Moscow and Washington.

Biden offered Putin earlier this month to hold a summit in a third country in an effort to “normalize” relations between Moscow and the West, which have deteriorated following new US sanctions against the Kremlin, the significant military build-up of Russia on the border with Ukraine and concerns about the health of imprisoned Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, told Russian state television that “they are talking about June, there are even specific dates”, being considered for the meeting, adding: “Well, I won’t talk about it yet, but it’s June. “

While Ushakov said the summit would take place “depending on many factors,” his remarks are the strongest sign that the Kremlin is actively working on organizing the meeting. Other senior Russian officials said Biden’s offer to hold a meeting in a European country had been “positively” received.

Biden plans to be in Europe in June for his first overseas trip since taking office, to attend the G7 summit in the UK June 11-13 and the NATO summit in Belgium on June 14. .

The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

Ushakov’s comments follow a week in which Russia appeared to take a less confrontational approach to issues where it has clashed with the West.

Moscow announced last week that thousands of troops deployed near the Ukrainian border were going return to their bases and allowed civilian doctors to visit Navalny in prison, where he finished a 24-day hunger strike. Putin also agreed to attend Biden’s climate change summit on Thursday.

Biden’s summit offer came just two days before he announced a new round of sanctions against Moscow, in an attempt to both punish Putin for past actions such as the alleged interference. in US elections and cyber attacks and offer the promise of a more cooperative. future relationship.

The move came a month after Biden told an interviewer he agreed with Putin’s assessment of a “killer,” a comment that sparked outrage in the Kremlin and saw Russia recall. his ambassador from Washington.

The envoy is yet to return, while the US ambassador to Moscow also returned home for consultations last week, meaning both countries’ embassies are without their top officials as talks on the potential summit take place.

Before Ushakov’s remarks, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month that the Kremlin “will take some time to analyze [Biden’s] proposal.”

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