GENEVA (Dispatches) -- With deep disagreements likely and expectations of solving them low, U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down in a lakeside Geneva villa on Wednesday for their first summit since Biden took office.
Both have said they hope their talks can lead to more stable and predictable relations, even though they are at odds over everything from arms control and cyber-hacking to election interference and Ukraine.
Putin and Biden shook hands on arrival before going inside.
“Mr President, I’d like to thank you for your initiative to meet today,” Putin said, sitting next to Biden, adding: “U.S. and Russian relations have a lot of issues accumulated that require the highest level meeting.”
Biden said they would try to determine areas of cooperation and mutual interest. “It is always better to meet face to face.”
Aides had earlier downplayed hopes for the summit.
“We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting,” a senior U.S. official told reporters, saying the leaders were expected to talk for four or five hours.
“I’m not sure that any agreements will be reached,” said Putin’s foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov.
The first bilateral round lasted almost two hours, the TASS news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
The two leaders were taking a short break before resuming with a larger group, the RIA news agency said.
Continued discussions were expected to include U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The summit perimeter was under heavy police guard.
In February, Russia and the United States extended for five years the New START treaty, which caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.