No joint press conference for Putin and Biden: Joe REFUSES to stand next to Russian president for questions from the media after the pair meet for ‘candid’ talks next week, with the White House wary the meeting will throw up HUGE differences
- President Joe Biden will hold a solo press conference after his meeting with Vladimir Putin next week
- Two leaders meet in Geneva on Wednesday
- ‘We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward and a solo press conference is the appropriate format,’ White House official said
President Joe Biden will hold a solo press conference after his meeting with Vladimir Putin next week, denying the Russian president the opportunity to stand by him and answer questions from the press.
A joint press conference is traditional when two world leaders meet and President Donald Trump held one with Putin when the two men met in Helsinki in July 2018.
It was an indication both of the administration’s reluctance to grant Putin yet another prominent platform in addition to the summit itself – as well as a reluctance on the part of the White House to put Biden in an unscripted situation that could go off the rails.
President Joe Biden will hold a solo press conference after his meeting with Vladimir Putin next week
The two leaders meet in Geneva on Wednesday in an 18th-century Swiss villa overlooking Lake Geneva. It’s their first face-to-face meeting since Biden became president.
‘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 on Saturday.
If they were to do a joint presser, Putin would get the chance to undercut serious warnings Biden wants to deliver on Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and cyber issues. Putin has already scoffed at the issue by raising treatment of US Capitol rioters in an effort to establish equivalency.
The format of the meeting is still being finalized but, according to the official, the plan is ‘for both a working session and a smaller session.’
Russian and American officials have been going back-and-forth on the format of the meeting, volleying ideas and jockeying for position as the date gets closer.
The sit down comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow, with Biden making it clear he will take a tougher stance on Russian aggression than his predecessor in the Oval Office, Donald Trump.
‘We’re under no illusions that this is going to be an easy relationship; it is going to be an extremely challenging relationship. And I think we’ve been quite clear about that,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call Friday.
Whatever the final format ends up being, it is expected to be much different than the last meeting between a Russian and American president – both in message and visuals.
Two years ago, Trump met privately for two hours with Putin in Helsinki and, afterward, they stood side-by-side to answer questions from reporters.
At the time, Trump sided with the Kremlin over US intelligence agencies, claiming he believed his Russian counterpart when Putin said the Kremlin didn’t interfere in US elections. Additionally, images of the two men smiling as Putin handed Trump an Adidas soccer ball undercut the stern messages of lawmakers and the intelligence community.
The White House also has yet to answer questions about who will be present during the smaller session, having faced questions about Trump and Putin’s decision to meet with only note takers present during past summit meetings.
Biden will deliver a much tougher message.