Putin, Biden agree to summit after Macron calls

Putin, Biden agree to summit after Macron calls

US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed to hold a bilateral summit, followed by a meeting with all relevant parties on the security situation in Europe, after both leaders spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, the Elysee said.

But the meeting “can only be held at the condition that Russia does not invade Ukraine,” the Elysée said in its readout of the calls.

Macron spoke with Putin twice on Sunday, the first time for an hour and 40 minutes and the second for an hour, as Western leaders attempt to de-escalate the crisis sparked by the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine’s borders. Macron’s second call with Putin came after the French president spoke with Biden for around 15 minutes.

In its readout, the Elysée said Macron had proposed the summit between Biden and Putin, and then with all parties, “to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe,” with Biden and Putin having “both accepted the principle of such a summit.”

The summit would be prepared by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting scheduled for this Thursday, February 24. The Elysée added Macron “will work with all stakeholders to prepare the content of these discussions.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that “Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Lavrov are scheduled to meet later this week in Europe, provided Russia does not proceed with military action. President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened.”

She added: “We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia choose war instead. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.”

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