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Biden and Putin praise Geneva summit talks but discord remains

The presidents of the US and Russia have praised their talks in Geneva but have made little concrete progress at the first such meeting since 2018.

Disagreements were stated, said US President Joe Biden, but not in a hyperbolic way, and he said Russia did not want a new Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Mr Biden was an experienced statesman and the two “spoke the same language”.

The talks lasted around three hours, less time than was scheduled.

Mr Biden said they did not need to spend more time talking and there was now a genuine prospect to improve relations with Russia.

As a gift to the Russian leader, Mr Biden brought Mr Putin a custom-made pair of aviator sunglasses, a style favoured by the US president, and a crystal sculpture of a bison. It is unclear whether Mr Putin gave Mr Biden a gift. In 2018, the Russian leader gave former President Donald Trump a soccer ball after a meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

The two sides agreed to begin a dialogue on nuclear arms control. They also said they would return ambassadors to each other’s capitals – the envoys were mutually withdrawn for consultations in March, after the US accused Russia of meddling in the 2020 presidential election.

However, there was little sign of agreement on other issues, including cyber-security, Ukraine and the fate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony.

Mr Biden said there would be “devastating consequences” for Russia if Navalny died in prison.

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