Biden participates in US-EU summit

By Kara Fox, Aditi Sangal, Ed Upright, Nick Thompson, Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 3:34 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021
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3:34 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Here's what happened at today's US-EU summit

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden arrived at a summit with European Union leaders that officials said would focus largely on issues of trade.

Biden has yet to roll back Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum, but he did help settle a dispute that had dragged on for nearly two decades over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus.

The two sides were expected to announce a resolution of the aircraft dispute, and signal progress on the metal tariffs without formally announcing their suspension quite yet.

Biden is eager to restore transatlantic ties on his European tour this week, hoping to enter the high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow appearing united with western allies. That has mostly come in statements of support, but the trade dispute resolution is a concrete signal of his intent to normalize traditional US alliances after four years of strain.

"America is back. We are committed — we have never fully left — but we are reasserting the fact it is overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States to have a great relationship with NATO and with the EU," Biden said as the talks began. "I have a very different view than my predecessor."

His message was welcomed by his hosts, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"The last four years have not been easy," said von der Leyen.

Officials want to ease trade tensions ahead of Biden's meeting with Putin to put on a united front against Moscow.

2:08 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Brother of detained American in Russia says he's "hopeful" Biden will be able to help release him

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Paul Whelan stands in a holding cell as he waits for a hearing in a court room in Moscow, Russia, on August 23, 2019. 
Paul Whelan stands in a holding cell as he waits for a hearing in a court room in Moscow, Russia, on August 23, 2019.  Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

David Whelan, the brother of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia since 2018, said he is “hopeful” that US President Joe Biden's administration will be able to help release his sibling. 

“I would say thank you,” Whelan said he’d tell Biden ahead of the US President's Wednesday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “For extending the offer to have this summit. For being pragmatic in the relationship with the Russian Federation, and to let him know that we are supportive of him and the decisions that he may have to make. And we are hopeful that his administration will find a way to bring our brother, son, home to our family.”

Paul Whelan, a former US marine, was convicted by a Moscow court of espionage on June 15, 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 by Russian authorities who alleged he was involved in an intelligence operation.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow is ready to hand over US citizens convicted in Russia, but Paul Whelan will not be among them.

David Whelan told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that he thinks his brother is being used as a bargaining chip. 

Whelan also said he understand Biden is in a “difficult situation.”

“The President is responsible for all of the American citizens wherever they are, and so it's a very difficult situation for him to have to decide about,” he said. 


12:25 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

EU and US outline new "Transatlantic Agenda" for post-pandemic cooperation

From CNN’s James Frater

The European Union and the United States have, in a joint statement, reaffirmed their commitment to the transatlantic partnership, setting key objectives of cooperation as part of the new “Transatlantic Agenda” for the post-pandemic era. 

“We, the leaders of the European Union and the United States, met today to renew our Transatlantic partnership, set a Joint Transatlantic Agenda for the post-pandemic era, and commit to regular dialogue to take stock of progress,” the two parties said in a statement on Monday. 

“We have a chance and a responsibility to help people make a living and keep them safe and secure, fight climate change, and stand up for democracy and human rights,” the statement added. 

The joint statement, published by the European Council, comes after a meeting between EU officials and US President Joe Biden in Brussels, where talks focused on strengthening cooperation on matters including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, tech innovation and trade. 

“Together, we intend to: end the COVID-19 pandemic, prepare for future global health challenges, and drive forward a sustainable global recovery; protect our planet and foster green growth; strengthen trade, investment and technological cooperation; build a more democratic, peaceful and secure world," the statement said. 

“We are committed to uphold the rules-based international order with the United Nations at its core, reinvigorate and reform multilateral institutions where needed, and cooperate with all those who share these objectives,” the statement added. 

12:12 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

US officials give details of upcoming Biden-Putin summit

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One at Geneva Airport in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, June 15. 
President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One at Geneva Airport in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, June 15.  Patrick Semansky/AP

President Joe Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday as US officials laid out the structure of his hotly anticipated talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Air Force One landed in Geneva around 10:20 a.m. ET local.

Officials aboard the plane said Biden would meet Putin at 1 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) at the lakeside villa where the summit is occurring. Putin will arrive to the villa first. Both will be greeted by the Swiss president before all three pose for a photo

Their first meeting will contain four participants: Biden, Putin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Each side will have a translator, and there will be a pool photo-op at the start.

The meeting will then expand with five-member delegations on each side, in addition to Biden and Putin. It wasn’t yet clear who would participate in the US delegation.

US officials said they expected the talks to last four to five hours, or perhaps longer. The leaders are not expected to share a meal.

“No breaking of bread,” a senior administration official said.

The two leaders will conclude by convening separate press conferences.

Officials underscored the modest expectations for the talks, listing nuclear stability and other arms control agreements as a potential source of agreement. They said it was possible that areas of potential cooperation are farmed out to aides for further work

Ransomware is expected to factor heavily in the talks, and the official said Biden would underscore the US plans to respond to continued state-directed hacks.

Biden will raise human rights, the official said, but would not specify if that will include a discussion of opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Both the US and Russian ambassadors to the respective capitals will be in Geneva for the talks.

The official said Biden has been reviewing the issues in written material and engaging with a wide variety of advisers in the lead-up to the summit.

11:12 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Brussels summit “only the beginning” of “stronger alliance” between EU and US, council president says

From CNN’s James Frater

Tuesday’s meeting between European Union officials and US President Biden in Brussels is “only the beginning” of a “stronger” future relationship between the EU and the US, European Council President Charles Michel said Tuesday, describing Biden as a “partner we can rely on.” 

"It was a pleasure to host President Biden today. We share a long history with the United States, we shaped much of the last century and now it's time to shape this century,” Michel said during a press briefing. 

“There will of course still be sensitive, delicate issues to be dealt with between us, but we're in listening mode, we're listening to each other, and we can see our way forward to meet solutions and mutual benefit,” he added. 

Addressing members of the press, the European Council president said talks with Biden focused on cooperation on matters including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, tech innovation and trade.  

"We're very pleased with this renewed commitment of the Americans and I think today's very intensive session has been very good,” Michel said. 

“It's only the beginning, we shall continue to step up our cooperation to promote our shared values,” he added. 

11:05 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Biden lands in Geneva ahead of summit with Putin


President Joe Biden has just landed in Geneva ahead of his summit wit Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Biden will meet with Putin in two sessions tomorrow. One will be with a smaller group and one with be with a larger contingent of aides, according to a White House official.

It was still being worked out with the Russians what the exact composition of each meeting will be, though Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are expected to participate.

You can read more about Wednesday's summit: here.

3:24 p.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Biden held meeting with Russia experts to prepare for Putin summit

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

President Biden held a meeting with a group of Russia experts earlier this month to get their input on dealing with Putin ahead of the summit, a person familiar with the meeting told CNN.

Among the attendees was Angela Stent, former National intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council, former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former National Security Council senior director for Russia Fiona Hill, former ambassador to Russia John Tefft, the controversial Russia expert Matthew Rojansky and former Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller. 

Axios was first to report the meeting and attendance of McFaul, Hill, Tefft and Gottemoeller.

The consensus of this group was that Biden shouldn’t hold a joint press conference with Putin at the end of their talks, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

This was not the first time Biden has convened Russia experts to brief him ahead of a Russia-focused meeting, per former official. He did the same as vice president.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the names of John Tefft and Rose Gottemoeller.

9:42 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

Biden departs Brussels for Geneva

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Biden departs Brussels for Geneva.
Biden departs Brussels for Geneva. Source: Pool

President Biden has departed Brussels after a NATO summit and talks with EU leaders.  

During their meetings, the United States and European Union settled a 17-year disagreement over how much each subsidizes its largest aircraft manufacturer. The resolution underscores Biden's eagerness to restore transatlantic ties during his European tour and to normalize traditional US alliances after four years of strain.

Air Force One departed around 9:10 a.m. ET bound for Geneva, where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. 

9:41 a.m. ET, June 15, 2021

"We must stand together for democratic principles," Harris says during the Brussels Forum

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

United States Vice President Kamala Harris called on democracies to recommit to the principals that keep them healthy during pre-recorded remarks to the Brussels Forum on Tuesday.  

Harris echoed what President Biden has said multiple times during his first foreign trip this week, that “America is back,” and committed to reengaging with Europe to strengthen the transatlantic partnership.

But she also stressed that democracy has been under attack in the US and around the world, and that the strength of one democracy depends on the strength of all democracies.

“The truth is we face many shared challenges: the pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty, climate change, cyber threats, and the resulting security concerns, and, of course, the outright assault on democracy that is occurring around the globe,” Harris said.

“Democracies require constant intentionality, constant vigilance, constant effort. It is when we stop doing that work, when we neglect democracy, it is when we take democracy for granted, that the attacks are able to grow,” she added.

The Vice President also discussed the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, saying it was able to occur because of an undermining of basic facts and disinformation, “chipping away at public confidence in our press and scientists, our courts and our elections.”

“I will never forget the horror and the heartbreak of January 6, 2021, when our United States Capitol, a beacon of democracy for so many, came under siege by a violent mob who refused to accept the results of a free and fair election. It is not enough to say we cannot let something like that ever happen again. We must commit and recommit our democratic principles and lead by example. We must reinforce our democratic institutions to deliver real results and instill trust,” she said.

Harris said the world's democracies must unite to address threatening challenges, like corruption, injustices and human rights violations. 

“And that is why wherever, whenever human rights are violated, we must stand together. Just as we did when the United States and the EU issued joint sanctions against China for abuses in Xinjiang. Just as we did when we stood up to Russia for its attack on Alexei Navalny ... We must stand together for democratic principles,” Harris said.