© Reuters. US President Joe Biden visits the Carrollton Water Plant in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA on May 6, 2021. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
From Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said Friday he expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon, and the White House said the persistent differences between the United States and Russia did not need to be resolved before a summit.
Biden told reporters at the White House that he wanted to meet Putin despite the build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine.
"It does not affect my desire to have a one-on-one interview and you will find that it had more troops before. It withdrew troops," he said.
When asked about meeting Putin in June, he said: "I am confident that we can do it. We don't have a specific time or place. We are working on that."
The United States has said it is backing Ukraine amid what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called "reckless" troop build-up in Moscow this week.
Biden and his advisors would like to add a summit with Putin in a third country while the U.S. president is in Brussels, Europe for a Group of Seven meeting in the UK and talks with NATO allies in mid-June.
However, negotiations with the Russians to hold the summit continue, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
"We're working on the issue of logistics – location, place, time, agenda, all the details – that would always happen at the staff level. It's really up to them what they want to achieve," she said.
The United States has a number of grievances with Russia, including the treatment of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. But Psaki said these grievances do not need to be resolved before a Biden-Putin summit.
"Obviously, human rights, free speech, freedom of expression and values are all issues that the President, Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor (Jake) Sullivan raised with their colleagues. But having an invitation to a discussion and having no meeting on the premise was offered that any problem will be resolved in advance. We assume that we will continue to have disagreements, "she said.
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