Putin-Biden talks could be held in European diplomatic capital: Russian Official
Moscow, Russia: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Tuesday said that a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, could be held in a European diplomatic capital if an agreement is eventually reached by the two countries. "There is no final agreement yet, but I think that anyway if an agreement is reached [the meeting will be held in] one of the European diplomatic capitals," Ryabkov told RBC. "A whole range of countries have offered and keep offering their capacities for organizing the meeting of the Russian and the US presidents," the diplomat continued. Commenting on the possibility of Geneva hosting the meeting, Pierre Vercauteren, a political sciences professor at UCLouvain University in Belgium, told Sputnik that it was probably the best option for the summit between the leaders.
"For this very important meeting between the Russian and the US leaders, Geneva, Switzerland is the best option. The city is the third-largest diplomatic center of the world after Washington DC and Brussels. It is in Europe without being in the European Union. The EU is not neutral in the issues that will be discussed by the two leaders," Vercauteren said. The professor noted that the strict neutrality of Switzerland was perfect, recalling that the four allied victors of World War 2 -- the USSR, the US, the UK and France -- used to meet in Geneva until the 1950s to deal with all post-war issues. While Helsinki and Vienna also keep an aura of neutrality, because of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe that took place in the Finnish capital and the nuclear talks on Iran in the Austrian capital, their role is much diminished, the professor added. "Reykjavik, Iceland could also have been chosen, as it hosted the historic meeting between [then-US President Ronald] Reagan and [USSR President Mikhail] Gorbachev, so could have been capitals in Asia, but Geneva is for me, indeed the best place: in Europe but not in the EU.
It seems the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs has played a discreet role in inviting the leaders of the two superpowers," he said, noting that the agenda will be serious -- arms control, security issues, and deescalation in Europe. Switzerland, in the meantime, does not comment on the claims that it could host the summit. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs also declined to tell Sputnik earlier in the day whether Switzerland had notified Moscow and Washington of its readiness to host the top-level summit.