Geneva, Switzerland - President Joe Biden of the United States and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, finally met in a high-profile summit on Wednesday, June 16, in Geneva, Switzerland after months of diplomatic tensions between the two nations.
The two world leaders discussed some crucial issues of mutual concerns while their top diplomats took notes.
Briefly News highlights the top five issues considered at the historic Geneva summit.
At the meeting, President Biden warned of significant consequences should Russia dare to launch cyber-attacks against the US. According to the Wall Street Journal, President Biden said he presented the Russian leader with a list of critical infrastructure that must be off-limits to cyberattacks.
He also said he reminded President Putin that the US has significant cyber-capabilities, thereby hinting that the US is prepared to respond if Russia launches attacks.
On his part, Putin said he agreed to start consultations with the US president on cybersecurity but denied Russia's involvement in any cyber sabotage.
A CNN analytical report indicates that the two leaders agreed to establish task forces on cyberattacks.
2. Alexei Navalny saga and human rights
President Biden also said he discussed with Putin the issue of the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who is currently in prison in Russia. Navalny is arguably the most prominent critic of the Putin administration.
Noting that he was forceful with Putin about human rights, the US president said should Navalny die in Moscow's custody, the consequences of that will be devastating for Russia.
In his own response, the Russian leader said Navalny knew he would be detained when he returned to Moscow, claiming that he had broken the law and had to answer for his actions.
3. Americans jailed in Russia
President Biden said he also raised the issue of a pair of Americans who are imprisoned in Russia. The US president said he was hopeful they would be released but gave no further details.
4. Return of ambassadors
At the summit, the two leaders reportedly agreed to return their respective ambassadors to their posts in an attempt to reduce tensions.
Russia had recalled its ambassador to the US after President Biden described Putin as a killer and subsequently advised the US ambassador in Moscow to also return to Washington.
5. Ukraine joining NATO
President Putin said he and Biden only briefly discussed the issue of Ukraine potentially joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Briefly News gathers that Moscow, which recently alarmed NATO with a large buildup of troops on Ukraine’s border, has long said the country's move to join the alliance is a red line that shouldn’t be crossed.
In the end, both leaders said they hoped the summit would set the stage for better relationships.
However, President Biden said he was not confident his Russian counterpart would change his behaviour without pressure from the world’s democracies.
US vs China vs Taiwan
Meanwhile, the hot and cold diplomatic relations between the US and China have intensified after Washington vowed to support Taiwan while bypassing Beijing.
This was after the US moved to ease restrictions that prohibited its officials from meeting with their Taipei counterparts despite China laying claim to it.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian asked the US to not 'play with fire' and immediately stop any form of communication with Taiwan officials so as not to stabilise peace on the island.
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