# Joe Biden
Global News
Biden pointedly asks Putin about cyberattacks at summit

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday how he would feel if someone carried out a ransomware attack on Russian oil pipelines, a pointed question during their summit that illustrated the breadth of their disagreements.

The query referred to a cyberattack that closed the Colonial Pipeline Co (COLPI.UL) system for several days in May, preventing millions of barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from flowing to the U.S. East Coast from the Gulf Coast.

Both leaders described their first summit in a lakeside Swiss villa as professional, rather than friendly, and said they agreed to hold lower-level talks on cybersecurity and arms control and to send their ambassadors back to their capitals.

But there was no hiding their differences on issues such as human rights, where Biden said the consequences for Russia would be devastating if jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny died, or cyberspace, where Washington has demanded Moscow crack down on ransomware attacks emanating from Russian soil.

While saying he had not made any threats to Putin in their talks, which a senior U.S. official said had lasted about three hours, Biden said he had posed a theoretical question to his Russian counterpart about the dangers of cyberattacks.

"I looked at him and said how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields? He said it would matter," Biden told reporters at a solo news conference, itself an illustration of the tensions between the two nations.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland June 16, 2021. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS

 

Biden said he told Putin critical infrastructure should be "off-limits" to cyberattacks, saying the list of organizations that should be off-limits included 16 sectors that he did not identify. 

Speaking to reporters earlier, Putin showed little appetite for compromise, dismissing Washington's concerns about Navalny, about Russia's increased military presence near Ukraine's eastern border, and about U.S. suggestions that unnamed Russians were responsible for cyberattacks in the United States.

Putin, 68, called Biden, 78, a constructive, experienced partner, and said they spoke "the same language," but added that there had been no friendship, rather a pragmatic dialogue about their two countries' interests.

Biden said he had told Putin "we need some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by."

The separate news conferences meant there was none of the joviality that accompanied a 2018 meeting in Helsinki between Putin and Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, where Putin gave Trump with a soccer ball. There was also no shared meal.

In a joint statement issued after the news conferences, the two sides said the meeting showed that they were able to make progress on shared goals even in periods of tension.

The United States and Russia will embark on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures, it said, saying the talks would begin "in the near future."

 

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# Vladimir Putin # Joe Biden
Global News
Wide disagreements, low expectations as Biden, Putin meet

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin face off on Wednesday in their first meeting since Biden took office with wide disagreements likely and expectations low for any breakthroughs.

Both have said they hope their talks in a stately lakeside Geneva villa can lead to more stable and predictable relations, even though they remain at odds over everything from arms control and cyber-hacking to election interference and Ukraine. 

"We're not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior U.S. official told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew to Geneva, saying the two are expected to talk for four or five hours starting at around 1 p.m. (1100 GMT).

"I'm not sure that any agreements will be reached," said Putin's foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov.

 

Relations have deteriorated for years, notably with Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. charges - denied by Moscow - of its meddling in the 2016 election that brought Donald Trump to the White House.

They sank further in March when Biden said he thought Putin was a "killer", prompting Russia to recall its ambassador to Washington for consultations. The United States recalled its ambassador in April. Neither has since returned.

The senior U.S. official said the United States aimed for a set of "taskings" - Washington jargon for assigning aides to work on specific issues - "about areas where working together can advance our national interests and make the world safer."

Arms control is one domain where progress has historically been possible despite wider agreements.

 

In February, Russia and the United States extended for five years the New START treaty, which caps their deployed strategic nuclear warheads and limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

The senior U.S. official said Biden would also define areas of vital national interest where Russian misconduct would bring a response. Biden signed an executive order in April giving Washington wide latitude to impose sanctions on Moscow.

Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat, told Reuters Putin wanted respectful ties and to be treated like members of the Soviet Politburo were in the 1960s-1980s, with "a symbolic recognition of Russia's geopolitical parity with the U.S."

"In exchange, they (Moscow) would be willing to cut back on some of the loony stuff," Frolov said, saying he meant "no poisonings, no physical violence, no arrests/kidnappings of U.S. and Russian nationals. No interference in domestic politics."

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank, set the bar for Wednesday's talks low.

"The principal takeaway, in the positive sense, from the Geneva meeting would be making sure that the United States and Russia did not come to blows physically, so that a military collision is averted," he said.

In a sign of the strained ties, the talks will not include any meals and Putin and Biden are expected to hold separate news conferences rather than a joint one.

"No breaking of bread," said the senior U.S. official.

 

While the issues may be vexing, the surroundings will be serene when the presidents meet in Villa La Grange, an elegant gray mansion set in a 30-hectare (nearly 75-acre) park overlooking Lake Geneva. 

In contrast to Trump, whose 2018 summit with Putin in Helsinki included a meeting accompanied only by interpreters, Biden and Putin are not expected to have any solo dealings.

Standing beside Putin in Helsinki, Trump refused to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, casting doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and sparking a storm of domestic criticism.

On Wednesday, Biden, Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with interpreters, will meet together before being joined by aides for a larger session.

 

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# Vladimir Putin # Joe Biden # Ukraine
Diplomacy
For the first time since taking office, Biden and Erdogan meet: "We discussed regional collaborations"

As part of the US president's eight-day trip to Europe, the two met in Brussels at the NATO summit. The meeting comes after tensions between the two countries due in part to the Biden administration's recognition of the Armenian genocide.

"A productive and honest conversation," Erdogan said at the conclusion. Biden: "A very good meeting"

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# Turkey # Joe Biden
USA
Biden Arrives at NATO Summit

U.S. President Joe Biden has recently arrived at a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.

# Belgium # Biden Administration # Joe Biden
USA
Biden-Putin Relations at a "Low Point"

Putin U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that "autocrat" Vladimir Putin was right to say that relations were at their lowest point in years though he suggested that Russia might be weaker than it seemed and that Moscow had overreached in the Middle East.

After attending a NATO summit on Monday, Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva.

Biden, who called the former KGB spy a killer in March, cast Russia as engaging in unacceptable behavior on a range of fronts.

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# Vladimir Putin # Joe Biden # US Government # Russia
US - Israeli Cooperation
Biden Welcomes New Israeli Government, Reaffirms Security Support

U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States remained committed to Israel's security and would work with its new government after Israel's parliament ended Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as prime minister today.

Biden welcomed the new government coalition led by Naftali Bennett and sought to reaffirm U.S.-Israel ties.

The White House said Biden spoke with Bennett on Sunday "to offer his warm congratulations."

Biden "expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region. The leaders agreed that they and their teams would consult closely on all matters related to regional security, including Iran," the White House said.

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# Biden Administration # Joe Biden # US Government # Naftali Bennett # Security # Israeli Politics
Global News
G7 expected to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expects the Group of Seven to agree to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries during its summit starting on Friday, and help innoculate the world by the end of next year.

Just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to supercharge the battle against the coronavirus with a donation of 500 million Pfizer shots, Johnson said Britain would give at least 100 million surplus vaccines to the poorest nations.

Johnson has already called on G7 leaders to commit to vaccinate the entire world by the end of 2022 and the group is expected to pledge 1 billion doses during its three-day summit in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay.

Some campaign groups condemned the plan as a drop in the ocean, with Oxfam estimating that nearly 4 billion people will depend on COVAX for vaccines, the programme that distributes COVID-19 shots to low and middle income countries.

 

"As a result of the success of the UK's vaccine programme we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them," Johnson will say on Friday, according to excerpts of the announcement released by his office.

"In doing so we will take a massive step towards beating this pandemic for good."

COVID-19 has killed around 3.9 million people and ripped through the global economy, with infections reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

While scientists have brought vaccines to market at breakneck speeds - Britain has given a first dose to 77% of its adult population and the United States 64% - they say the pandemic will only end once all countries have been vaccinated.

 

With a global population nearing 8 billion and most people needing two doses, if not booster shots to tackle variants as well, campaigners said the commitments marked a start but world leaders needed to go much further, and much faster.

"The G7's aim to provide 1 billion doses should be seen as an absolute minimum, and the timeframe needs to speed up," said Lis Wallace at anti-poverty campaign group ONE.

"We're in a race with this virus and the longer it's in the lead the greater the risk of new, more dangerous variants undermining global progress."

Of the 100 million British shots, 80 million will go to the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the rest will be shared bilaterally with countries in need.

 

Johnson echoed Biden in calling on his fellow leaders to make similar pledges and for pharmaceutical companies to adopt the Oxford-AstraZeneca model of providing vaccines at cost for the duration of the pandemic.

Leaving poorer countries to deal with the pandemic alone risks allowing the virus to further mutate and evade vaccines. Charities have also said that logistical support will be needed to help administer large numbers of vaccines in poorer countries.

The British doses will be drawn from the stock it has already procured for its domestic programme, and will come from suppliers Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen, Moderna and others.

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# CoronaVirus Vaccines # Boris Johnson # Joe Biden
Iran
Russia to supply Iran with advanced satellite

Russia is preparing to provide Iran with an advanced satellite that would enable it to track potential military targets across the Middle East, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The plan would deliver a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellite equipped with a high-resolution camera which could be launched from Russia within months, the Post said.

The report was published days before U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva and as Iran and the United States are engaged in indirect talks on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal designed to put curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.

The satellite would allow "continuous monitoring of facilities ranging from Persian Gulf oil refineries and Israeli military bases to Iraqi barracks that house U.S. troops," said the paper, which cited three unnamed sources - a current and a former U.S. official and a senior Middle Eastern government official briefed on the sale.

 

While the Kanopus-V is marketed for civilian use, leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have made several trips to Russia since 2018 to help negotiate the agreement, the Post said.

Russian experts traveled to Iran this spring to help train crews who would operate the satellite from a newly built facility near Karaj west of Tehran, it added.

The satellite would feature Russian hardware, the Post said, "including a camera with a resolution of 1.2 meters — a significant improvement over Iran’s current capabilities, though still far short of the quality achieved by U.S. spy satellites."

The Revolutionary Guards said in April 2020 that they had successfully launched the country's first military satellite into orbit, prompting then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call for Tehran to be held accountable because he believed the action defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.

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# Iran # Joe Biden # Russia
USA
Biden begins European visit with a warning for Russia

President Joe Biden began today (Wednesday) his first trip abroad since taking office, by hailing America’s unwavering commitment to the NATO alliance and warning Russia it faced “robust and meaningful” consequences if it engaged in harmful activities.

Biden, speaking to about 1,000 troops and their families at a British air base, said he would deliver a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet next week after separate summits with NATO, G7 and European leaders.

"We're not seeking conflict with Russia," the Democratic president said at the start of his eight-day visit to Europe. "We want a stable and predictable relationship ... but I've been clear: The United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities."

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# United Kingdom # NATO # Vladimir Putin # Joe Biden # Russia
US-Israel Relations
"We Will Work With Any Government"

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this morning (Thursday) that the U.S. will work with any government that will come to power in Israel.

"President Biden has worked with all Israeli governments since the days of Golda Meir", said the Secretary of State.

"In democracy", added Blinken, "governments change. We will work with any government that forms, whether under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or under anyone else".

๐Ÿ“ธ Reuters

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# US-Israel # Antony Blinken # Joe Biden # Netanyahu
US-Israel Relations
Biden Congratulates Herzog

U.S. President Joe Biden congratulated this morning (Thursday) the newly elected Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog, and said that he is certain that the partnership between Israel and the U.S. will continue to grow stronger under his presidency.

๐Ÿ“ธ Reuben Castro

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# Yitzchak Herzog # US-Israel # Joe Biden
US-Israel Relations
Biden congratulates Isaac Herzog

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday congratulated Isaac Herzog, who was elected President of Israel.

“On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend my warm congratulations to Isaac Herzog on his election to serve as the 11th President of the State of Israel. Throughout his career, President-elect Herzog has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to strengthening Israel’s security, advancing dialogue, and building bridges across the global Jewish community. I am confident that under his presidency, the partnership between Israel and the United States will continue to grow and deepen,” Biden said in a statement.

“I also want to thank President Reuven Rivlin for his many years of service to the people of Israel. I look forward to welcoming President Rivlin to Washington in the weeks ahead to honor his dedication to the enduring partnership and the close friendship between our two nations,” he added.

Herzog, the chairman of the Jewish Agency and former chief of Israel's Labor Party, was elected President of Israel in a vote in the Knesset earlier on Wednesday, defeating Israel Prize Laureate Miriam Peretz 87 to 26. Six MKs abstained from the vote.

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# Yitzchak Herzog # Israeli Diplomacy # Joe Biden
USA
In Memorial Day speech, Biden defends 'imperfect' democracy

U.S. President Joe Biden used his Memorial Day speech on Monday to defend America's "imperfect" democracy, calling for more work to deliver the promise of what he said remained "the greatest experiment" in world history.

"The struggle for democracy is taking place around the world - democracy and autocracy. The struggle for decency, dignity, just simple decency," he said

Speaking in the largely empty Arlington Memorial Amphitheater with the nation still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said 7,036 people had died in recent U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving the ideals of the United States and democracy as a vibrant form of government.

Biden has announced plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year after the longest ever U.S. overseas engagement. 

 

 

 

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# Biden Administration # Joe Biden
Expert Opinion
Biden Bypasses his Democratic "Squad"

Ambassador of Goodwill Tal Brody on the Biden administration bypassing the congress and approving the arms sale with Israel:

Despite the pressure from the Democratic Squad (Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Cortez and their radical Democratic Party block that is trying to undermine America's number one ally in the Middle East), President Biden approves the sales of heavy smart bombs to Israel.

Don't forget it was Tlaib's and Omar's family and friends that were celebrating while the twin towers were falling on 9/11.

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# Biden Administration # US-Israel # Expert Opinion # Joe Biden
Diplomacy
Palestinian Arabs happy with Biden

The Palestinian Authority’s “Jerusalem affairs minister”, Fadi al-Hadami, said on Wednesday that the PA welcomes the US administration's decision to reopen its consulate general in eastern Jerusalem, noting that the move has important and significant political implications.

Hadami expressed hope that the US administration will soon open the consulate as a step towards recognizing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

He stressed the importance of the positions expressed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his opposition to settlements, demolitions of homes and evictions of "rightful owners" from their homes.

Blinken's opposition to families being evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem must be accompanied by real pressure on the Israeli government to stop the policy of "displacing" Palestinian residents from their homes, said Hadami.

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# Hamas # Joe Biden # Hatred of America
COVID-19 Update
Chinese embassy in U.S. says politicising COVID-19 origins hampers investigations

Politicising the origins of COVID-19 would hamper further investigations and undermine global efforts to curb the pandemic, China’s U.S. embassy said after President Joe Biden ordered a review of intelligence about where the virus emerged.

The embassy in Washington said in a statement on its website on Wednesday evening "some political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and (the) blame game".

As the World Health Organization (WHO) prepares to begin a second phase of studies into the origins of COVID-19, China has been under pressure to give investigators more access amid allegations that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a laboratory specialising in coronavirus research in the city of Wuhan.

China has repeatedly denied the lab was responsible, saying the United States and other countries were trying to distract from their own failures to contain the virus.

Biden said on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence agencies were divided about whether COVID-19 “emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident”.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health with the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said China's lack of openness was a major factor behind the resurgence of the lab leak theory.

"There's nothing really new there to prove the hypothesis," he said. "In the investigation of the origins of the pandemic it is really important to have transparency in order to build trust in the investigation results."

 

"A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY"

The Chinese embassy said it supports "a comprehensive study of all early cases of COVID-19 found worldwide and a thorough investigation into some secretive bases and biological laboratories all over the world."

The Global Times tabloid, part of the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper group, said late on Wednesday that if the "lab leak theory" is to be further investigated, the United States should also allow investigators into its own facilities, including the lab at Fort Detrick.

"Very clearly they are trying to internationalise their way out of the jam they are in," said Jamie Metzl, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, who has been campaigning for a new independent investigation.

 

A joint China-WHO study published in March said that it was highly improbable that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from the lab, adding that it most likely spread from bats to humans via an as yet unidentified intermediary species.

China has also continued to point to the possibility that COVID-19 originated in another country and entered via infected frozen food or through southeast Asian wildlife trade networks.

"The pandemic started in China," Metzl said. "Let's start with a full investigation there and expand as necessary. In short, this (statement from the embassy) is an outrageous insult to every person who has died from this terrible tragedy and their families."

Huang of CFR said further investigations into the origins of COVID-19 were at an "impasse".

“Ideally you want China to be more cooperative and more transparent,” Huang said. “But now the issue has become so politicised, with the stakes of the investigation so high.”

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# World Health Organization # China # Joe Biden
Iran
Republicans seek congressional approval before Iran deal

A measure in the Senate would require the Biden administration to obtain congressional approval before inking a deal with Iran, according to a copy of the draft amendment obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The amendment would establish a significant roadblock in the Biden administration's bid to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The Republican-backed amendment would prevent the Biden administration from signing any new deal without Senate approval.

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# Iran # Joe Biden
Global News
Biden says U.S. sanctions against Belarus are in play

President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that U.S. sanctions against Belarus are in play, but declined to offer more details.

Biden made the remark to reporters as he was leaving the White House en route to his home state of Delaware amid international outrage over Belarus' forcing down of a jetliner and arrest of a dissident journalist on board. 

"Well, that's in play. I don't want to speculate until we get it done," Biden said when asked what the United States was considering in terms of a sanctions response.

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# Joe Biden # Global News
Diplomacy
Biden, Putin to Meet in June

The U.S. and Russia have announced that Presidents Biden and Putin will meet next month in Switzerland.

๐Ÿ“ธ Reuters

# Vladimir Putin # Switzerland # Joe Biden # US Government # Russia
Gaza Strip News
Biden Thanks el-Sisi

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and thanked him for the "successful diplomacy" that led to the end of the fighting between Israel and Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip.

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# Hamas # Gaza Strip # Egypt # Joe Biden