President Joe Biden looked down at flashcards briefly on Wednesday while sitting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva ahead of what was expected to be a five-hour meeting.
Biden arrived in Geneva on Wednesday afternoon where Putin had been waiting. The president had spent the days prior to the meeting attending the G-7 summit and meeting with allies.
Biden and Putin shook hands upon meeting and also each spoke to the media prior to their closed-door sitdown, ABC News reported.
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) June 16, 2021
“I think it’s always better to meet face to face, try to determine where we have mutual interest, cooperate,” Biden said, CNN reported.
Putin, after greeting Biden, thanked him for “the initiative to meet.”
“I know you’ve been on a long journey and have a lot of work,” the Russian leader told Biden. “Still the U.S. and Russia and U.S. relations have a lot of issues accumulated that require the highest-level meeting, and I hope that our meeting will be productive.”
As the pair sat down before reporters and with top aides, a video showed Biden reaching over to a table where he had what appeared to be prepared notes for the short Q&A alongside the Russian leader.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 16, 2021
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was sitting to Biden’s right.
Biden is known to carry notes with him and often appears to follow strict guidelines for what he says and whom he speaks to. The 78-year-old sometimes breaks these guidelines and comments about them out loud in a jocular manner.
Beyond carrying apparent flashcards to an informal media moment alongside the head of one of the country’s largest geopolitical foes, Biden’s media sitdown also created another notable controversy.
The president nodded when a reporter asked him if he trusts Putin, which sent Biden’s communications director into damage control mode.
PBS “NewsHour” correspondent Yamiche Alcindor tweeted about the Biden question and answer.
“Reporter to President Biden: Do you trust Putin? Do you trust each other?” Alcindor tweeted. “President Biden looked directly at the reporter and nodded affirmatively.”
Reporter to President Biden: Do you trust Putin? Do you trust each other?
President Biden looked directly at the reporter and nodded affirmatively.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 16, 2021
The tweet quickly drew a response from Biden aide Kate Bedingfield.
“It was a chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other. @POTUS was very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally,” Bedingfield claimed.
“He said just two days ago in his presser: ‘verify, then trust,’” she added.
It was a chaotic scrum with reporters shouting over each other. @POTUS was very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally. He said just two days ago in his presser: “verify, then trust.” https://t.co/5C9gP4XTtO
— Kate Bedingfield (@WHCommsDir) June 16, 2021
Biden has previously called Putin a “killer” and has claimed that as vice president a decade ago he looked into Putin’s eyes and told him he was missing a “soul.”
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