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Swiss villa to host first Biden Putin summit

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1373   7 months ago
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1373   7 months ago
GENEVA - US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to hold their June 16 summit in an 18th-century Swiss villa overlooking Lake Geneva, a soothing setting for what promises to be heated talks.

Bitter disputes over election interference, cyber attacks, human rights and Ukraine hang over their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office on Jan 20.

Strategic nuclear stability and regional conflicts will be on the table. Biden, who is due to arrive in Britain on Wednesday at the start of his first trip abroad as president, has said he would press Putin to respect human rights.

Putin said last Friday he expected the talks to be held in a positive atmosphere, though he anticipated no breakthrough.

He said allegations that Russian hackers were behind a cyber attack that disrupted meat production in North America and Australia were an attempt to provoke a political row ahead of the summit, Interfax news agency reported.

Despite "destructive noise" by both sides, a mutual objective has emerged to put their relationship "on a more predictable and stable basis", said Robert Legvold, professor emeritus at Colombia University and a Russia expert.

"Over time, Geneva summits have been critical to the relationship," he told reporters in the Swiss city on Wednesday (June 9).

"And when it comes to actually working out important areas of cooperation, strategic nuclear arms control, the majority of those talks have been in Geneva too."

Diplomatic sources expect confirmation of the venue later on Wednesday or Thursday. The Swiss police and army have closed the two parks surrounding the Villa La Grange and installed barricades and barbed wire.
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