Biden and world leaders meet at 2021 NATO summit

By Zamira Rahim, Melissa Macaya and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 2348 GMT (0748 HKT) June 14, 2021
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4:19 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Biden says he was honest when he called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "killer"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Biden told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny that when he called the Russian President a “killer,” he answered honestly, adding he didn’t “think it matters a whole lot” in terms of their upcoming summit. 

Biden initially responded to Zeleny’s question by chuckling and replying: “I’m laughing, too,” a reference to Putin’s reaction in an interview when he was asked about Biden’s initial comments. 

“The answer is I believe he has in the past essentially acknowledged that he was – there are certain things he would do or did do. Look, when I was asked that question on air I answered it honestly. I don’t think it matters a whole lot in terms of this next meeting that we’re about to have,” Biden added. 

When asked how he would ever be able to trust Putin if the two leaders are able to move forward, Biden said he would “verify first and then trust.”

“In other words everything would have to be shown to be actually occurring. It’s not about, you know, trusting, it’s about agreeing,” Biden said. 

Biden pointed to other examples and treaties with other adversaries in the past, saying, “you don’t say I trust you, you say this is what I expect and if you violate the agreement you made then, the treaty's off.”

“I’m hoping that President Putin concludes that there is some interest in terms of his own interest in changing the perception the world has of him, in terms of whether or not he will engage behavior that’s more consistent with what is considered to be appropriate behavior for a head of state,” Biden added.

4:36 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Biden repeats call to NATO allies to defend democracy against autocracy

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14.
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14. Patrick Semansky/AP

US President Joe Biden repeated a call Monday “to prove to the world and to our own people that democracy can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver the needs of our people.”

Speaking after his first NATO summit, Biden said it was up to Democratic nations to prove to the world that autocracies cannot deliver for their people.

"That's how we'll prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time, deliver for the needs and the needs of our people,” he said.

He said NATO members must root out corruption, guard against hatred and “phony populism,” and invest in strengthening institutions “that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values.”

Biden was speaking after meeting with the 30-member defense alliance, as well as a number of leaders one-on-one.

He offered a firm defense of the Article 5 collective defense clause, and said “everyone in that room understood the shared appreciation that America is back.”

Article 5 is the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. It’s been a cornerstone for the 29-member alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union. Article 5 has only been invoked once: After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the US.

Biden said there was a “strong consensus” among leaders about his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.

And he repeated his concerns that Russia and China are “driving a wedge” between western allies.

Watch here:

CNN's Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.

4:08 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Biden says the death of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny would be a "tragedy"

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14.
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, June 14. Patrick Semansky/AP

Speaking at a news conference following a full day of meetings with NATO leaders, President Biden was asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Putin on Wednesday.

Specifically, he was asked what it would mean for the US-Russia relationship if jailed opposition activist Alexey Navalny were to die or be killed in prison.

"Navalny's death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of abiding by basic fundamental human rights," Biden said.

"It would be a tragedy. It would do nothing but hurt his [Putin's] relationships with the rest of the world, in my view," he continued.

Navalny was imprisoned earlier this year by a Moscow court for allegedly violating the probation terms of a 2014 case in which he received a suspended sentence of three and a half years.

On June 9 a Moscow court ruled that two organizations linked to Navalny are "extremist" groups – forcing them to shut down and rendering their members ineligible to run in upcoming elections.

4:33 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Biden says he'll "make it clear what the red lines are" in upcoming meeting with Putin

US President Joe Biden was just asked about his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He refused to give details about what he expected the meeting to look like or what topics it might include, but said he will make clear where the "red lines" are.

"I'm going to make clear to President Putin that there are areas where we can cooperate, if he chooses, and if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond. We will respond in kind," Biden said.

"We should decide where it's in our mutual interest and the interest of the world to cooperate and see if we can do that. And the areas where we don't agree, make it clear what the red lines are," Biden added.

He said he's spoken to Putin in the past, and described him as "bright" and "tough." Biden also said he would provide more details after the Wednesday meeting.

"The fact is that I will be happy to talk with you when it's over, not before, about what the discussion will entail," he said.

Watch here:

3:51 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

President Biden says the US is "approaching a sad milestone" of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths


US President Joe Biden opened his press conference tonight in Brussels by noting that the United States is "approaching a sad milestone" of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths. 

"We made enormous progress in the United States. Much of the country is returning to normal, and our economic growth is leading the world, and the number of cases and deaths are dropping dramatically. But there's still too many lives being lost. We're still averaging in the last seven days the loss of 370 deaths per day — 370 deaths. That's significantly lower than at the peak of this crisis, but it's still a real tragedy. We're approaching a sad milestone. Almost 600,000 lost lives because of Covid-19 in America." 

He pleaded with Americans who haven't gotten the vaccine to get vaccinated "as soon as possible."

"We have more work to do to beat this virus. And now's not the time to let our guard down," Biden said. "Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. We have had enough pain. Enough pain."

3:31 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

NOW: Biden holds news conference after attending his first NATO summit as US President

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kate Sullivan

US President Joe Biden is speaking to reporters now from Brussels after participating in the 2021 NATO summit.

Biden arrived at the gathering with a vow to reaffirm the United States' commitment to a military alliance his predecessor viewed with disdain. He placed enhanced attention on Russia and China, along with the cyber-threats emanating from both countries.

NATO leaders largely backed Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, according to a senior administration official present for the talks.

The group agreed in its final statement to provide "transitional funding" to keep the airport open, and Turkey — a NATO member state — committed to keeping troops in the country to safeguard the facility.

A final communiqué issued by the group highlighted the "threat" presented by Russia and the "challenges" posed by China following the meeting on Monday.

Read more about today's summit here.

2:42 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

NATO meetings are running long and delaying Biden's news conference

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

A White House official says the delay to US President Joe Biden’s news conference is attributed to the NATO plenary session with leaders running long, as well as all of the one-on-one meetings he conducted on the sidelines of the summit.

“There are a lot of people who want to see him here,” a White House official tells CNN, insisting that nothing has gone awry.

No fresh time estimate was given beyond the “shortly” — which was 30 minutes ago. 


1:56 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Biden says he had "very good meeting" with Turkish President Erdogan

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Turkish Presidency/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Turkish Presidency/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden says he's held a "very good meeting" with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking across the table from the Turkish leader, Biden declined to offer any other details on their sit-down, which was expected to be contentious.

Asked by a reporter to repeat himself, Biden said only, "I didn't say anything."

Reporters had been waiting for more than an hour for the photo-op, which was originally scheduled for the start of the meeting. But only official photographers were allowed in at the beginning.

Erdoğan didn't speak during the spray.

A host of topics was expected on the agenda, including counterterrorism, Afghanistan, Syria and human rights.

12:50 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Spain's prime minister says he and Biden talked about Latin America and migration on the sidelines

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool/AP
Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool/AP

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had a brief conversation with US President Biden on the sidelines of the summit where he took the opportunity to advance the military and political cooperation between the two countries and to discuss the political and economic situation in Latin America and the impact it has had on migration into the United States.

Sanchez also applauded Biden for re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement and for how Biden was relying “on science to be able to respond to the pandemic and the evolution Covid-19 situation in his country.”

The Spanish prime minister said Biden had inspired him and other progressive leaders when he won the elections in the United States. Sanchez added that so far, his administration had been able to live up to its promises.

“President Biden, as a progressist leader, inspired many of us when he won the elections some months ago and I think the first steps he has taken as President, in his administration, corroborate and certify that progressive inspiration that he gave to other progressive governments such as that of Spain,” Sanchez told journalists at a news conference after the NATO Summit on Monday.