Meeting between Putin, Biden possible before the end of the year: Kremlin

MoscowUpdated: Oct 20, 2021, 11:16 PM IST


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At least four leaders from the Group of 20 nations look set to miss this month's summit in Rome.

The Kremlin on Wednesday said a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden before the end of the year was a realistic possibility, as Moscow-Washington relations languish at post-Cold War lows.

"In one form or another (a meeting) is quite realistic," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said when asked whether the meeting could take place this year.

At least four leaders from the Group of 20 wealthy nations look set to miss this month's summit in Rome that hosts Italy had hoped would be an in-person event, diplomats and officials said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that he would definitely not attend the October 30-31 meeting, the third leader to formally pull out after Japan's new prime minister Fumio Kishida and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Putin and Kishida have said they will follow proceedings via video link, while a spokesman for Obrador said he would send Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in his place.

Other countries have yet to make official announcements, but a diplomatic source in Rome said Chinese President Xi Jinping was unlikely to come. There was also uncertainty over whether Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro would show up.

By contrast, US President Joe Biden has confirmed he will come, with the leaders of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the European Union also all expected.

Kishida is staying home because Japan is holding a general election on Oct. 31, while Obrador has rarely travelled abroad since taking charge of Mexico in 2018. He skipped the last in-person G20 summit held in Japan in 2019 before COVID-19 hit.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying Putin's decision was driven by the continued COVID-19 pandemic, with Russia registering record deaths and new cases in recent days.

Putin briefly self-isolated last month after dozens of people in his entourage were diagnosed with the virus. Last week, after coughing repeatedly at a government meeting, Putin said he had caught a cold.