On Saturday, the White House confirmed that Biden would not be joining Putin after the summit for the press conference.
“While we are still finalizing the format of the meeting with President Putin and his delegation, we can confirm some details, including plans for a working session and a shorter session, as well as a solo meeting by President Biden. Including the press conference meeting,” a White House official said.
“We expect this meeting to be clear and direct and that a single press conference is the appropriate format to communicate clearly with the free press for the topics raised at the meeting – both in areas where we can agree and those In areas where we are there are significant concerns,” the official said.
This is a change from three years ago, when then-President Donald Trump had a two-hour private meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland. The two leaders then spoke to reporters after Trump took the Kremlin’s side over US intelligence agencies, drawing criticism at home.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN’s Matthew Chance in an exclusive interview on Friday that Russia is also not expecting a joint press conference at the end of the Putin-Biden summit. However, the Kremlin said that negotiations on the final draft are on.
“We have heard from our American counterparts about such a possibility, but we are still waiting for final confirmation, but from the very beginning, President Putin has been open to any option,” Peskov said.
Peskov told CNN that Putin is ready to attend a joint press conference or hold a press conference of his own in Geneva. He said Putin is not going to Geneva to appear on the same platform as Biden, but because the “poor state of relations” between the US and Russia calls for a summit.
Asked on Friday what his message would be to Putin, Biden suggested he would speak to reporters after the talks.
“I’ll let you know once it’s delivered,” he said after a photo-op at the Group of 7 summits held on the south-west English coast.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier this week that details such as a joint press conference were still being worked out.
“It’s all still being worked out,” he said. “So when I have more to report on the modalities, both in terms of how the meeting will be structured and the press element, we’ll get back to you.”
Sullivan said the president himself planned to speak later when Biden was on his way to England to begin his overseas trip.
“He’d like the opportunity to read it after that meeting and talk about his impressions and how to move forward,” he said.
In the weeks after Biden invited Putin for a summit meeting in Europe, officials on both sides negotiated the details of the encounter, including its agenda and location.
Officials involved in arranging previous US meetings with Putin say the Russian side often presses for a joint press conference, hoping to elevate Putin’s stature with the US leader.
It is one of many difficult decisions that go into planning a meeting with Putin.
“I have been in the room with Putin several times when I was working for President Obama. And that’s what always characterizes these summits,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s former deputy national security adviser.
“The point is to create cynicism, that nothing really matters, that it’s not even worth challenging, that everyone is as corrupt as everyone else,” Rhodes said. “And I think it’s up to Joe Biden to draw a clear distinction between what America stands for in the world and what Vladimir Putin has been doing for better than two decades.”