In a phone call with his Russian counterpart, US President Biden proposes a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia, the White House says.
US President Joe Biden has proposed a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone call, in which he stressed the US commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity and voiced concern about a Russian military build-up in Crimea and on Ukraine's borders, the White House said.
"President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defence of its national interests in response to Russia's actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference," the White House said in a brief statement on Tuesday.
"President Biden emphasised the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions," it added.
The conversation was only the second between the two leaders since Biden became president on January 20 and it took place amid growing US and European concerns about Russian treatment of Ukraine.
President Biden spoke today with President Putin, making clear the United States’ resolve to defend our national interests and expressing our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 13, 2021
'A stable and predictable relationship'
Western officials say Russia has moved thousands of combat-ready troops to Ukraine's borders this year, the largest massing of Russian troops since it seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Fighting has escalated in recent weeks in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have battled Russian-backed separatists in a seven-year conflict that Kiev says has killed 14,000 people.
"President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with US interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia," the White House statement added.
NEW: President Biden during a phone call today proposed a summit meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin pic.twitter.com/rd6iws5zKv— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) April 13, 2021
Putin explains views on eastern Ukraine
The Kremlin said US President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday that he wanted to normalise bilateral ties and to cooperate on arms control, Iran's nuclear programme, Afghanistan and climate change.
It also confirmed that Biden had proposed a high level meeting with Putin, but gave no indication of how the Russian leader had responded to that suggestion.
The Kremlin said in the same readout that the call had taken place at Washington's initiative and that Putin had explained his views on eastern Ukraine where a simmering conflict has escalated.
It said two presidents would "continue dialogue" over ensuring global security, the Kremlin said.
"Both sides expressed their readiness to continue dialogue on the most important areas of ensuring global security," the statement said.