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President Joe Biden arrived in Geneva Tuesday, ahead of his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. But first, he moved Tuesday to end a tariff war with the European Union escalated by his predecessor. White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports on Biden’s diplomatic sprint on his final day in Belgium.
President Biden has arrived in Geneva tonight, making ready for his meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin tomorrow.
But, first, he moved today to end a tariff war with the European Union.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.
President Biden's final day in Belgium, a diplomatic sprint, photo-ops at the palace with the Belgian king.
Joe Biden, President of the United States: America is back, and which is why we're here in full force.
Then meetings at the European Commission headquarters.
It's overwhelmingly in the interests of the United States of America to have a great relationship with NATO and with the E.But.
One early product of Mr. Biden's E.U. engagement? A major trade resolution. This morning, the U.S. and E.U. announced they reached an agreement to end a 17-year-long trade dispute. It involves aircraft subsidies for the American company Boeing and the European multinational Airbus.
Former President Trump escalated the U.S.-E.U. trade war. He slapped tariffs on European metals and other goods. Today, U.S. and E.U. officials vowed to end the larger trade dispute.
In Brussels today, U.S. trade Representative Katherine Tai told reporters that the deal will impact 700,000 jobs in the U.S. It comes as China is on track to become a major rival in airplane manufacturing.
After his meetings in Brussels, President Biden flew to Geneva, Switzerland. Tomorrow, he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He's bright. He's tough. And I have found that he is a — as they say, when I used to play ball, a worthy adversary.
U.S. officials say the president's meetings with Putin and Russian officials are expected to start around 1:00 p.m. local time. They could last four to five hours or even longer.
Following the meetings, Mr. Biden is scheduled to hold a press conference without Putin, who will speak separately. The two leaders have met before, in 2011, when Mr. Biden was vice president.
Yesterday, in Brussels, President Biden said he plans to take a tough line with Putin, but he also will try to sort out any common challenges they can address together.
We should decide where it's in our mutual interests, in the interests of the world, to cooperate, and see if we can do that, and the areas where we don't agree, make it clear what the red lines are.
Administration officials say Mr. Biden plans to raise a number of issues. Among them? Ransomware attacks against U.S. infrastructure by criminals in Russia, as well as Ukraine, human rights, and arms control.
Sources close to Mr. Biden tell the "NewsHour" the main goal of the meeting is for the president to show U.S. strength and to create a stark contrast to former President Trump. In 2018, after meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump told reporters that he believed Putin over U.S. intelligence officials that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
Today, in Geneva, President Biden was questioned whether he was ready to meet Putin. He had a simple answer — quote — "I'm always ready."
And Yamiche joins me now.
So, as you reported, President Biden did meet with European Union leaders today. They announced a trade deal. Tell us about the significance of that.
This trade deal between President Biden and the European Union is seen as a significant step toward calming the train disputes — the trade disputes that really go past the Trump era.
President Trump — former President Trump was really seen as hostile to European leaders and countries. He upped tariffs. And this is really President Biden wanting to signal that the United States and our European allies are on the same page. This is a five-year truce. And it's between Europe's Airbus and the United States' Boeing.
I should also note that White House officials have been underscoring over and over again that they're looking for foreign policy for the middle class, to benefit the middle class. So, this gets to that, they say, because this is going to impact about 700,000 jobs.
And, meanwhile, Yamiche, we know the president has flown on to Geneva a day ahead of his meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
What do we know about the issues President Biden plans to raise with Mr. Putin?
Well, this is now, of course, the high-stakes meeting that we have been waiting for, for now several weeks.
President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are going to be meeting at a villa just behind me. And the stakes and — are really, really high for. There are all eyes looking at these two leaders. There's a lot on the agenda, including talking about ransomware attacks that have reportedly been carried out by criminals living in Russia.
There's also the idea of Russia meddling in elections and disinformation. There's Ukraine and the annexing of Crimea. And there's really human rights issues. So, President Biden says he has a long list. He wants to have a firm hand with Russia. And he also wants to make a stark contrast between his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who was seen as cozying up to Russia.
And what is it that — how is it that this meeting is expected to shape their relationship going forward? What are American officials telling you they want from this meeting?
Well, that is a key question, Judy. What exactly is President Biden looking for in this meeting with the Russian president? And how, really, will it benefit the American people? That's the question that I have been putting to White House sources and aides.
And they say this is really about showing that the U.S. is strong and that the U.S. can confront Russia head on. There's also this sense that President Biden really wants to turn the page and not be like his predecessor. There is a feeling here that this meeting is going to be going on for some four to five hours. So there's going to be a lot to talk about.
Now, President Biden, though, has called the Russian president a killer. He has said that he does not trust him. So there really is this feeling that, while President Biden is here meeting with him, that he really wants to try to find some common ground, but also wants to make the case that the United States should be talking to, in some ways, our adversaries, as well as the people that are close with us, our allies.
And President Biden will be holding that solo press conference. And White House officials tell me it's because he does not want to be seen as competing with the president of Russia. He doesn't want to be seen as looking at who spoke longest. And he really wants to be making the case why this is important for the American people.
But there are a lot of questions about, what are the deliverables that are going to come out of this meeting? And we're going to, of course, be hopefully asking some questions in that press conference and getting some answers, Judy.
Well, the two men do have a bit of a history together. So, we will be really interested to see how that meeting goes.
Yamiche Alcindor with President Biden in Geneva, Switzerland.
Thank you, Yamiche.
Thanks so much.
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Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour; the moderator of Washington Week, the weekly public affairs show on PBS; and a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters. She is currently covering the administration of President Joe Biden and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
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