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White House Says Biden To Go ‘Solo’ For Post-Putin Press Conference

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(RFE/RL) — The White House says U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a “solo press conference” after his summit in Geneva next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the latest indicator of the tensions swirling between Moscow and Washington.

An unnamed U.S. administration official said Biden appearing alone was “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.”

The go-it-alone tactic highlights the U.S. administration’s desire to challenge Kremlin talking points and to avoid appearing overly cozy with the Russian leader, whom Biden has suggested is “a killer” out to undermine international security and permanently silence his domestic critics.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the announcement, but suggested it didn’t necessarily bode badly for the summit.

“After the talks are over, President Putin will appear before the Kremlin pool reporters and other media outlets,” he was quoted by TASS as saying.

Biden’s decision is a contrast to the scene after Putin met with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, in Helsinki in 2018.

After those closed-door talks, Trump emerged at a joint press conference defending Russia over U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward,” the White House official said, according to a pool report.

Since taking office in January, Biden has challenged Moscow over its actions in Ukraine, alleged meddling in elections, and cyberattacks emanating from Russia.

But the U.S. leader has also said the United States wants a “stable, predictable” relationship that allows Moscow and Washington to work together on common issues like strategic stability, arms control, and climate change.

In segments of an interview broadcast by NBC on June 11, Putin said that the U.S.-Russia relationship had “deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.”

Biden is in Cornwall on the southern U.K. coast for a summit with other Group of Seven industrialized nation leaders this weekend that will include talks on Russia and China, then goes to Brussels for meetings with European Union and NATO officials.

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RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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