Biden participates in US-EU summit

By Kara Fox, Aditi Sangal, Ed Upright, Nick Thompson, Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 3:34 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021
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8:12 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

"Completely inappropriate" to discuss prisoner swap ahead of Biden-Putin summit, Kremlin says

From CNN’s Anna Chernova and Zahra Ullah in Geneva 

“It is completely inappropriate now to discuss” who could be involved in a possible US-Russian prisoner swap, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN during a conference call with journalists on Tuesday.

Peskov added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already publicly said he would be open to a prisoner swap, but details need to be discussed between the two presidents.

The issue of prisoner swaps is high on the agenda ahead of Wednesday's Biden-Putin summit in Geneva, Switzerland, with both US and Russian officials saying they want their citizens returned.

Peskov's comments follow statements from Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who stated that Moscow is ready to hand over US citizens convicted in Russia, but Paul Whelan will not be among them.

The Biden-Putin summit will likely last around four-to-five hours, the spokesperson said, adding that the Russian president will hold a press conference "as soon as" the talks are over.

“I don't know if there will be a press conference for Mr. Biden. But I can officially confirm that a press conference of Vladimir Putin following the meeting will take place."

7:42 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Biden showcases Western support before heading to meet Putin

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on June 14.
US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on June 14. Francisco Seco/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

President Joe Biden's European tour has demonstrated Western solidarity before he arrives in Geneva for lengthy and contentious talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for Wednesday.

At the Group of 7 and NATO summits, he discussed the upcoming meeting with at least two dozen foreign leaders, from the Chancellor of Germany to the leaders of the tiny Baltic states to the right-wing President of Poland. He was even quizzed on the meeting by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II over tea at Windsor Castle.

It's part of a clear US effort to arrive at the Putin meeting after public displays of unity among Western allies, according to a person familiar with the process.

Every world leader here that's a member of NATO thanked me for meeting with Putin now. Every single one," Biden said in Brussels after he attended a summit of the defense alliance. He said he'd found "a consensus and they thanked me for being willing to talk with them about the meeting and what I intended to do."

Biden will meet with Putin in two sessions, one a smaller group and one with a larger contingent of aides, according to a White House official.

It was still being worked out with the Russians what the exact composition of each meeting will be, though Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are expected to participate.

Read the full story here.

7:13 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

US and EU resolve 17-year dispute over Boeing and Airbus subsidies

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The United States and European Union settled a 17-year disagreement over how much each subsidizes its largest aircraft manufacturer, as US President Joe Biden met with EU leaders in Brussels Tuesday.

The resolution underscores Biden's eagerness to restore transatlantic ties during his European tour and to normalize traditional US alliances after four years of strain.

The dispute over government support -- for Boeing in the US and Airbus in the EU -- devolved under former President Donald Trump, who slapped tariffs worth $7.5 billion on European products. That led to reciprocal tariffs applied by the EU on the United States.

As part of the resolution, the two sides agreed to suspend tariffs for five years that each had put on the other as part of the trade battle. They also will each release statements spelling out “acceptable support” for the aircraft manufacturers.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the settlement -- reached after months of intensive talks -- “resolves a long standing trade irritant in the US-Europe relationship. Instead of fighting with one of our closest allies, we are finally coming together against a common threat.”

Tai said the US had reserved the right to reapply the tariffs if Europe doesn’t uphold its side of the deal. The trade representative also mentioned China as a motivating factor in uniting on trade at this moment.

"A renewed trade and investment partnership with the European Union is a top priority for the administration and our early efforts have been successful," Tai said.

6:52 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

"America is back," Biden says ahead of meetings with EU leaders

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, European Council President Charles Michel, right, and US President Joe Biden arrive for the EU-US summit at the Europa building in Brussels on June 15.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, European Council President Charles Michel, right, and US President Joe Biden arrive for the EU-US summit at the Europa building in Brussels on June 15. Francisco Seco/AP

US President Joe Biden arrived to meetings with European officials on Tuesday vowing to restore relations after four years of tension under Donald Trump.

"America is back. We are committed -- we have never fully left -- but we are reasserting the fact it is overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States to have a great relationship with NATO and with the EU," Biden said.
"I have a very different view than my predecessor," he added.

Biden's message was welcomed by his hosts, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"You are back in Brussels and America is back on the global scene," Michel said. "It’s great news."

"The last four years have not been easy," said Von der Leyen. "The world has dramatically changed, Europe has changed, we want to reassure you, your friends and allies."

6:00 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

A "wonderful place on the lake": Putin aide reveals details of Wednesday's meeting with Biden

From CNN's Anna Chernova in Geneva  

An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin has briefed media on the upcoming meeting with US President Joe Biden, according to Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.

The meeting is scheduled on Wednesday at 1 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) at the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, Ria reported, citing Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov.

Ushakov called the venue a "wonderful place on the lake," with "good conditions for negotiations," Ria reported. A tent has also been built for the press conference, Ushakov added.

The aide also gave a further rundown of the summit. According to Ria, Ushakov said:

  • Putin will first be met by the President of Switzerland Guy Parmelin. Then Biden will arrive.
  • After a joint photo session and some words from the host, Putin and Biden will proceed to the Villa La Grange library.
  • During the first part of the meeting, Putin will be accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, while Biden will be accompanied by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
  • Stenographers will be present for the second part of the meeting, with simultaneous interpreting taking place.
  • Both sides will hold a separate press conference after the talks conclude.

"As for whether the presidents will want to step aside and have a real one-on-one talk, I don't know, it’s up to them," Ushakov added, according to Ria.

The Russian delegation will also include Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, the Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov, the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

Also present will be the deputy head of the presidential administration Dmitry Kozak and the special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev. Given their presence, Ria deducts Putin and Biden may discuss the situation in Ukraine and in the Middle East.

Ushakov said that the leaders' meeting would touch upon topics including the situation in Belarus and jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, Ria reported.

5:31 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Biden arrives at Royal Palace of Brussels

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden signs a book during his meeting with King Philippe at the Royal Palace of Brussels on June 15.
US President Joe Biden signs a book during his meeting with King Philippe at the Royal Palace of Brussels on June 15. Francois Walschaerts/AFP/Getty Images

President Joe Biden has arrived at the Royal Palace of Brussels, where he was greeted by Belgium's King Philippe and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

The three leaders walked into a grand hallway and posed for a socially distanced photo, each taking off their masks for the picture. They were flanked by Belgian and American flags.

Biden and Philippe then put their masks back on, and the US President sat in a red velvet upholstered chair at an ornate wooden desk, where he signed a book.

The President, the King and the Prime Minister will hold a bilateral meeting ahead of the US-EU summit.

5:19 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Biden and Putin are meeting tomorrow. Here's how the US President is preparing for the high-stakes summit

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Phil Mattingly, Jeff Zeleny, Kaitlan Collins and Natasha Bertrand

President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14.
President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14. Olivier Hoslet/Pool/AP

US President Joe Biden is using time away from summit meetings on his European tour this week for intense preparations ahead of his talks with Vladimir Putin, according to officials, as he works to avoid the pitfalls his predecessors faced in showdowns with the Russian leader.

Most of his formal meetings this week have started after noon, leaving his mornings free for consultations with advisers. He has held lengthy preparation sessions with senior officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, to discuss the wide range of issues he plans to bring up with Putin, from cyberattacks to Syria to Ukraine.

The President has also asked foreign leaders at the G7, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for their input as he prepares for the meeting in Geneva, according to people familiar with the conversations. Putin even came up as a point of conversation during his tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, Biden told reporters, saying she "wanted to know" about the Russian President.

Given some NATO allies had expressed concern about the optics of Biden's summit with Putin, Sullivan said Biden would speak privately with leaders "about what he intends to talk to Putin about" during a meeting of the defense alliance on Monday.

As Biden becomes the fifth straight American president with whom Putin has met, officials want Biden to be prepared for Putin's tactics, including his well-known habit of turning discussions of Russia's bad practices back on the United States. Biden has told aides he believes Putin will respond to directness during their talks and wants to be ready to offer a frank message.

"He's overprepared!" Biden's wife, first lady Jill Biden, exclaimed last week when asked whether her husband was primed for his meeting with Putin.

Along with Merkel, Biden has opened the door for input to other key allies in bilateral meetings and conversations on the margins over the last several days. The idea serves dual purposes, aides said: While Biden's decades in foreign policy give him a self-assurance about his approach, he sees value in the views of others who have had similar meetings with the Russian leader.

Read the full story here.

4:31 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

US and EU to form joint council on trade and technology to counter China

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend the NATO summit in Brussels on Monday.
Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend the NATO summit in Brussels on Monday. Laurie Dieffembacq/Belga/AFP/Getty Images

The United States and the European Union will form a joint council meant to address questions of trade and technology, in part to provide a better check on China's economic practices, a senior Biden administration official said.

The task force will be announced during President Joe Biden's summit with EU officials in Brussels on Tuesday. 

The task force is meant to "work together to write the rules of the road for the next generation, particularly in the areas of economics and emerging technologies," the official said.

"We also have to take account of the fact that China poses a significant challenge in both of these areas, and dealing with China's non-market practices, its economic abuses and, of course, efforts to shape the rules of the road on technology for the 21st century will be an important part of the work of this council, and this fits with President Biden's fundamental strategy," the official said. 

It will focus on new technology like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and supply chain resilience.

The trade side will center on WTO reform, regulations and the role of trade on climate change.

The US side will be co-chaired by the secretaries of State and Commerce, along with the US trade representative.

Biden and EU leaders will also discuss Covid-19, climate and other foreign policy challenges, including Iran.

The meeting is not expected to produce a resolution on steel and aluminum tariffs that have been in place since the Trump administration and have caused a rift between the US and EU. 

Still, "the direction of travel is positive, and we do believe that there is a way to resolve this that works for both the United States and the European Union," the official said.

4:16 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

China calls NATO communiqué a continuation of “Cold War mentality” and “clique politics”

China on Tuesday slammed NATO’s warning yesterday that Beijing posed “systemic challenges” to the alliance and the international order. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Monday that China "is coming closer to us" in military prowess and that Beijing doesn’t share the Western values NATO was set up to defend.

China responded Tuesday by calling the NATO statement a “continuation of the Cold War mentality and clique politics psychology."

A spokesperson from the Chinese mission to the EU said in a statement that China had always been reasonable and transparent in terms of national defense policy, adding that accusing China of posing a “systemic challenge” was slanderous and misjudged.

“The number of nuclear weapons in China is not at the same level as that of NATO countries such as the United States," the spokesperson said, adding that the "number of nuclear warheads in NATO member states is nearly 20 times that of China."

“People all over the world can see clearly whose military bases are all over the world and whose aircraft carriers are showing off their military power,” the spokesperson added.

In its joint statement Monday, the 30-member NATO alliance said it was "increasingly confronted by cyber, hybrid, and other asymmetric threats, including disinformation campaigns, and by the malicious use of ever-more sophisticated emerging and disruptive technologies. Rapid advances in the space domain are affecting our security. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the erosion of the arms control architecture also undermine our collective security."

Chinese state media also published an editorial Tuesday, rebuking NATO's comments and urging member nations not to be “politically exploited by Washington.” The Global Times editorial warned that “NATO is a military bloc, from which sending a confrontational message to China is naturally considered more severe than doing so through the G7.”

The NATO communiqué comes off the back of the G7 summit, where Biden said he "walked away" from the meeting convinced that the group recognizes that China is part of a growing threat to global democracy.

While G7 leaders agreed to take steps to curb China's influence during the summit, Europeans are squeamish about getting dragged by the US into a showdown with Beijing.

US officials said earlier on Monday that Italy and Germany were uneasy with the NATO language.

Stressing "balance," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "China is our rival in many questions but also our partner in many aspects." French President Emmanuel Macron said the G7 wanted to work with Beijing on climate, trade, development and other issues despite disagreements, saying that the "G7 is not a club hostile to China."

During the summit, leaders agreed to set up an alternative to China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, called on China to respect human rights in Hong Kong and in the Xinjiang province, and to permit a full probe into the origins of Covid-19. It also called for calm in the South and East China seas.