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Kremlin says 'actions' needed before Putin-Biden summit

By AFP - Apr 15,2021 - Last updated at Apr 15,2021

MOSCOW — Russia said on Wednesday it would consider US President Joe Biden's proposal to hold a meeting with President Vladimir Putin but warned Washington against introducing new sanctions if it wants to mend ties.

In a phone call on Tuesday, Biden proposed that the two leaders hold a summit "in the near future" that would come at a time of heightened tensions between the former Cold War rivals.

"It is early to talk about this meeting in terms of specifics. This is a new proposal and it will be studied," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He added that there is still no set agenda for the summit, but said that "without a doubt bilateral ties are important" in areas of mutual interest.

On Wednesday, US ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan was summoned to the Kremlin and told that Washington must refrain from introducing new sanctions on Russia if it wants to mend ties, a Russian foreign ministry spokesperson told AFP.

Peskov told reporters that Sullivan had met with Putin's foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov, but said that does not mean that preparations for a bilateral summit have started.

“The discussion was about the fact that the announced initiatives should be matched with actions,” said Peskov, describing the nature of the conversation at the Kremlin.

The US embassy in Moscow declined an immediate comment.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have escalated in recent weeks, with Russia building up its troops on the border with Ukraine, where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The United States and its allies have called on Moscow to withdraw its forces.

“We consider the concerns of anyone — including the United States — regarding the movement of our armed forces on Russian territory to be unfounded,” Peskov said.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied involvement in the long-simmering conflict and rejected claims that it props up the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

Ties were already strained after Washington demanded the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and slapped sanctions on Moscow over his poisoning in August last year.

Peskov, however, said that Navalny was not discussed in the Putin-Biden call.

A Kremlin statement on Tuesday said that the two leaders discussed Ukraine as well as the Iranian nuclear programme, Afghanistan peace talks and climate change.


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