Biden says 'genuine prospect to significantly improve relations' with Russia after Putin summit

US President Joe Biden says he thinks there is a "genuine prospect to significantly improve relations" with Russia following a summit with Vladimir Putin. The two leaders talked face to face for aroun

Biden says 'genuine prospect to significantly improve relations' with Russia after Putin summit

US President Joe Biden says he thinks there is a "genuine prospect to significantly improve relations" with Russia following a summit with Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders talked face to face for around four hours in Switzerland - shorter than Mr Biden's advisers had said they expected - but he later admitted the pair did not need to spend more time talking.

Speaking at a solo news conference, Mr Biden said he told President Putin he will always raise issues of "fundamental human rights", including jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

He insisted "human rights are always going to be on the table".

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No hostility with Biden meeting - Putin

Mr Biden said he told his Russian counterpart that "no US president could keep faith with the American people if they did not defend democratic values".

And in perhaps his strongest remark, Mr Biden said the consequences would be "devastating for Russia" if Mr Navalny, who has recovered from a hunger strike in protest against his detention conditions, died.

Mr Biden told reporters "I did what I came here to do" and said the summit was "good", adding the "last thing he (Putin) wants now is a Cold War".

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But he claimed the Russian leader "is not ready to lay down his arms" as he is "concerned about being encircled and that the US wants to take him down".

He said a new Cold War is in "nobody's interest".

He said the US-Russia relationship must be stable and predictable and he and Mr Putin share a unique responsibility.

Mr Biden also said he thought there was a "genuine prospect to significantly improve relations between the countries without us giving up a single thing based on principle and values".

He said there were no threats at the summit, just simple assertions made.

Vladimir Putin holds a news conference after the US-Russia summit
Image: Mr Putin said the conversation was 'constructive'

The US president added the two leaders spent a great deal of time on cyber security and he told Mr Putin that critical infrastructure should be off-limits for attacks.

And he said both men agreed to work to ensure Iran does not get nuclear weapons.

Mr Putin earlier told a news briefing that there was no hostility during his meeting with Mr Biden and the summit was constructive.

Mr Putin said he saw a "glimpse of hope" for mutual trust with the US, describing the discussions also as pragmatic and fruitful.

In one of the main developments, he said he and Mr Biden have agreed to return their ambassadors to their respective posts in each other's capitals in an attempt to lower tensions.

• Mr Putin also accused US of cyberattacks against Russia

• Russian leader said Mr Navalny got what he deserved and defended jail sentence

• Mr Putin acknowledged Mr Biden raised human rights issues with him

• Russian leader deflected questions about mistreatment of Russian opposition leaders by highlighting US domestic turmoil, including Black Lives Matter protests and 6 January Capitol insurrection

• Mr Putin accused Ukraine of breaking terms of ceasefire agreement

• He said Moscow and Washington will resume arms control talks

During recent months, both nations had pulled back their top envoys to Washington and Moscow as relations chilled.

Mr Putin said: "Our assessment of many issues differ, but in my view both sides demonstrated the desire to understand each other and looks for ways to get closer."

The conversation was constructive, he went on, describing his counterpart as a "very experienced partner".

But he cautioned there was "no friendship" as both leaders were defending the interests of their countries, adding: "I have no illusions about the US."

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Putin and Biden meet in Geneva

Prior to the summit, Mr Biden, who instigated the talks, has repeatedly called out Mr Putin for malicious cyberattacks allegedly by Russian-based hackers on US interests.

But Mr Putin hit back, saying at the news conference that cyberattacks on Russia are coming from the US.

He said he and Mr Biden have agreed to start consultations on cybersecurity, while he continued to deny US allegations the Russian government was behind a spate of recent high-profile hacks against American agencies.

Mr Biden has also criticised Mr Putin for a disregard for democracy with the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and alleged interference in American elections.

On the Navalny issue, Mr Putin said the opposition leader knew he would be detained when he returned to Russia from Germany but came anyway. And he said he got what he deserved when he was handed a prison sentence.

The novichok poisoning of Mr Navalny was blamed on the Kremlin, which it denies.

At the news conference, Mr Putin batted away a question about his crackdown on political rivals by changing the subject to what he said was disorder in America around the storming of the US Capitol and Black Lives Matter.

Mr Putin said he did not want to see riots in Russia or a movement akin to BLM.

He said: "What we saw was disorder, disruption, violations of the law, etc. We feel sympathy for the United States of America, but we don't want that to happen on our territory and well do our utmost in order to not allow it to happen."

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Russia's View: Exclusive interview with Putin

Mr Putin also accused Kiev of breaking the terms of a ceasefire agreement with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

And he said there was nothing of substance to discuss about Ukraine's possible membership in NATO.

He also said Moscow and Washington will resume arms control talks.

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Biden: Putin is a worthy adversary

The two men, appearing together for the first time since 2011, have had face-to-face discussions at a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The first round of talks involved both leaders, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a pair of translators.

A second session involved other senior officials on both sides.

President Biden gave a thumbs up as he left the villa and then entered his limousine before the separate news conferences, TV footage showed.