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Politics: Biden looks to ease EU trade tensions ahead of Putin summit

Biden likely to come out of Putin summit empty-handed and risks handing the Kremlin a victory, former US officials warn

  Biden likely to come out of Putin summit empty-handed and risks handing the Kremlin a victory, former US officials warn "If there aren't clear deliverables criticism will grow that this high-level meeting ultimately benefited the Kremlin," a former US official said.Relations between the US and Russia have been deteriorating for years, and Washington has struggled to come up with an effective response to Putin's increasingly aggressive behavior both at home and abroad. Experts warn that Putin has no intention of using the meeting to improve relations, and question what Biden has to gain via the summit.

BRUSSELS (AP) — President Joe Biden is seeking to tamp down trade tensions with European allies as he spends one last day consulting with Western democracies ahead of his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives for a NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking part in his first NATO summit, where the 30-nation alliance hopes to reaffirm its unity and discuss increasingly tense relations with China and Russia, as the organization pulls its troops out after 18 years in Afghanistan. (Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool via AP) © Provided by Associated Press U.S. President Joe Biden arrives for a NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking part in his first NATO summit, where the 30-nation alliance hopes to reaffirm its unity and discuss increasingly tense relations with China and Russia, as the organization pulls its troops out after 18 years in Afghanistan. (Kenzo Tribouillard, Pool via AP)

After a pair of summits with Group of Seven world leaders in the U.K. and then NATO allies in Brussels, Biden meets Tuesday with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Biden, unlike predecessors, has maintained Putin skepticism

  Biden, unlike predecessors, has maintained Putin skepticism BRUSSELS (AP) — President Joe Biden frequently talks about what he sees as central in executing effective foreign policy: building personal relationships. But unlike his four most recent White House predecessors, who made an effort to build a measure of rapport with Vladimir Putin, Biden has made clear that the virtue of fusing a personal connection might have its limits when it comes to the Russian leader. The president, who is set to meet with Putin face-to-face on Wednesday in Geneva, has repeated an anecdote about his last meeting with Putin, 10 years ago when he was vice president and Putin was serving as prime minister.

The president has sought to marshal widespread European support for his efforts to counter Russia prior to his Wednesday meeting in Geneva with Putin. But the U.S.-EU relationship is not without some tensions.

Biden will meet with the top EU officials at a moment when the continent’s leaders are becoming impatient that the American president has not yet addressed his predecessor Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to impose import taxes on foreign steel and aluminum. There’s also a longstanding dispute over how much of a government subsidy each side unfairly provides for its aircraft manufacturing giant — Boeing in the United States and Airbus in the EU.

U.S. President Joe Biden leaves the podium after a media conference at a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking part in his first NATO summit, where the 30-nation alliance hopes to reaffirm its unity and discuss increasingly tense relations with China and Russia, as the organization pulls its troops out after 18 years in Afghanistan. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP) © Provided by Associated Press U.S. President Joe Biden leaves the podium after a media conference at a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking part in his first NATO summit, where the 30-nation alliance hopes to reaffirm its unity and discuss increasingly tense relations with China and Russia, as the organization pulls its troops out after 18 years in Afghanistan. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)

Biden isn’t expected to take action on the tariffs before heading to Geneva later Tuesday. He bristled that he needed more time to address the matter when asked by a reporter about the tariffs at his news conference at the end of the G-7 on Sunday. “A hundred and twenty days," Biden said, underestimating his time in office by weeks. "Give me a break. Need time.”

Putin talks hacking, Navalny and Capitol riot in NBC interview ahead of Biden summit

  Putin talks hacking, Navalny and Capitol riot in NBC interview ahead of Biden summit In an exclusive interview, Putin again denied that Russian hackers or the government itself were behind cyberattacks in the U.S. were "farcical," and he challenged NBC News, and by implication the U.S. government, to produce proof that Russians were involved."We have been accused of all kinds of things," Putin said. "Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.

Still, White House officials think they can build more goodwill with Europe ahead of the Putin face-to-face meeting.

To that end, the White House announced Tuesday the creation of a joint U.S.-EU trade and technology council. The trans-Atlantic council will work on coordinating standards for artificial intelligence, quantum computing and bio-technologies, as well as coordinating efforts on bolstering supply chain resilience. Biden is appointing Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to co-chair the U.S. side of the effort.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference during a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking part in his first NATO summit, where the 30-nation alliance hopes to reaffirm its unity and discuss increasingly tense relations with China and Russia, as the organization pulls its troops out after 18 years in Afghanistan. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP) © Provided by Associated Press U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference during a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is taking part in his first NATO summit, where the 30-nation alliance hopes to reaffirm its unity and discuss increasingly tense relations with China and Russia, as the organization pulls its troops out after 18 years in Afghanistan. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)

The White House said the two sides will discuss efforts to stem climate change and the launching of an expert group to determine how best to reopen travel safely as the coronavirus pandemic ebbs.

What can Biden and Putin hope to accomplish at their summit?

  What can Biden and Putin hope to accomplish at their summit? After years of mounting antagonism, expectations are low, red lines are drawn and the presidents have plenty to disagree on. But there are openings.The Biden administration hopes merely to foster a more "stable and predictable relationship" with Russia. For Putin, the summit in Geneva will be all about demonstrating that his country is taken seriously as an international power.

Biden will start his day with a meeting with Belgian King Philippe and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

The U.S.-EU summit is also expected to include a communique that will address concerns about China’s provocative behavior.

Tuesday's statement would follow a NATO summit communique on Monday that declared China a constant security challenge and said the Chinese are working to undermine the global rules-based order. On Sunday, the G-7 called out what it said were China's forced labor practices and other human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the western Xinjiang province.

Since taking office in January, Biden has repeatedly pressed Putin to take action to stop Russian-originated cyberattacks on companies and governments in the U.S. and around the globe and decried the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Biden also has publicly aired intelligence that suggests — albeit with low to moderate confidence — that Moscow offered bounties to the Taliban to target U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Biden to confront Putin in tense Geneva summit

  Biden to confront Putin in tense Geneva summit President Joe Biden will draw "red lines" for President Vladimir Putin at a tense Geneva summit on Wednesday, where ghosts of the Cold War will hover over modern-day US concerns that Russia has become a rogue, authoritarian state. © Jim WATSON President Joe Biden says he wants to draw 'red lines' for Russia during a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin © Gal ROMA Key issues on the agenda in the Biden-Putin summit The setting -- a sumptuous villa overlooking Lake Geneva -- may be picturesque, but a gruelling diplomatic face-off awaits.

Both Biden and Putin have described the U.S.-Russia relationship as being at an all-time low.

The Europeans are keen to set up a “high-level dialogue” on Russia with the United States to counter what they say is Moscow’s drift into authoritarianism and anti-Western sentiment.

President Joe Biden touches a piece of steel from the North Tower of the World Trade Center while visiting a memorial to the September 11 terrorist attacks at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) © Provided by Associated Press President Joe Biden touches a piece of steel from the North Tower of the World Trade Center while visiting a memorial to the September 11 terrorist attacks at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

At the same time, the 27-nation bloc is deeply divided in its approach to Moscow. Russia is the EU’s biggest natural gas supplier, and plays a key role in a series of international conflicts and key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and conflicts in Syria and Libya.

The hope is that Biden’s meeting with Putin on Wednesday might pay dividends, and no one in Brussels wants to undermine the show of international unity that has been on display at the G-7 and NATO summits, according to EU officials.

In addition to scolding China, NATO leaders in their communique on Monday took a big swipe at Russia, deploring its aggressive military activities and snap wargames near the borders of NATO countries as well as the repeated violation of the 30-nations’ airspace by Russian planes.

They said Russia has ramped up “hybrid” actions against NATO countries by attempting to interfere in elections, political and economic intimidation, disinformation campaigns and “malicious cyber activities.”

“Until Russia demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to ‘business as usual,'" the NATO leaders wrote. “We will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by enhancing our deterrence and defense posture.”

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Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman contributed to this report.

Opinion: How meeting with Biden put Putin on top of the world .
The Geneva summit never should have happened, writes Garry Kasparov. Now that it's over, I'm even more mystified as to why it happened at all. I can answer for Putin, of course. Dictators love events that put them on an equal footing with democratic leaders and sitting one-on-one with the president of the United States is the most coveted prize of all. Putin already scored a major victory the moment the summit was announced, especially since Biden himself proposed the meeting. For Putin, it wasn't just a meeting between heads of government -- for him, it was literally the highest point, the top of the world.

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