‘Not a Contest’ — Joe Biden Refuses Press Conference with Vladimir Putin

Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, left, geatures as he meets Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 10, 2011.The talks in Moscow are expected to focus on missile defense cooperation and Russia's efforts to join the World Trade Organization. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

President Joe Biden turned down the idea of a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, arguing he did not want it to be a “contest” between the two leaders in front of the media.

The matter came up as Biden spoke about his scheduled Wednesday meeting with Putin in Switzerland at a press conference with reporters.

“I always found — and I don’t mean to suggest that the press should not know — but this is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference to try to embarrass each other,” Biden explained.

The president said he did not want to deal with the optics of a press conference, and instead speak to Putin privately about their differences.

“I don’t want to get into being diverted by, ‘Did they shake hands? How far did they ta- — who talked the most,’ and the rest,” Biden said.

During the press conference, Biden stumbled while speaking about discussing “the rebuilding of — of Syria, of Libya” with Putin, and also said Russia and the United State could join forces to “fighting climate change.”

President Donald Trump famously held a press conference with Putin in 2018 that lasted 45 minutes, as United States reporters repeatedly questioned Trump’s unwillingness to challenge Russia for meddling in America’s 2016 election.

But Biden said. he was unwilling to experience the public spectacle with Putin.

“I know you don’t doubt that I’ll be very straightforward with him about our concerns,” he told the press.

The president said he would hold a solo press conference after the meeting and that Putin would likely do the same.

“I will make clear my view of how that meeting turned out, and he’ll make clear how — from his perspective, how it turned out,” he predicted.


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