US President Joe Biden's telephone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday was hardly unexpected, as logic favour continuing dialogue between the two state leaders, said Press Secretary for the President of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday.
When asked by reporters to weigh in on the differing accounts of the call offered by the Kremlin and White House, the presidential spokesman said that the parties involved in such exchanges typically accentuate aspects that they prioritise.
Putin and Biden spoke on the phone on 13 April at the initiative of the latter, with Peskov describing it as "businesslike" and lengthy.
According to the Kremlin's account of the call, Biden proposed “normalising the state of affairs on the bilateral track” and suggested focusing on “pressing matters such as ensuring strategic stability and arms control.”
The White House readout of the discussion underscored that issues touched upon ranged from strategic stability, Russia's alleged "cyber intrusions," and election meddling – to Washington’s "unwavering commitment" to Ukraine.
According to Washington, the two leaders discussed “a number of regional and global issues,” with Biden reaffirming “his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with US interests.”
During the conversation, the US President offered to hold a personal meeting in a third country in the coming months.
The proposal comes in the wake of months of deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington. In March, Biden said he agreed that Putin is a “killer” in an ABC News interview.
The comments led to the Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, being recalled. In reply to the slander, Putin said he sincerely wished Biden “good health.”
The US president also said Russia would “pay a price” for its alleged meddling in America's 2020 presidential election and increasing tensions in Ukraine's Donbas region.
‘Third Country’ Venue
The proposed meeting between Putin and Joe Biden has unleashed speculation over the possible venue, especially after the American leader suggested that the pair should meet in “a third country.”
According to Peskov, it's too early to speak of potential venues.
He acknowledged that “a third European country” had been floated.
Meanwhile, some states have been quick to offer hosting the potential meeting.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek went on Twitter on Wednesday to float the possibility of his country’s capital Prague hosting the event. Hamacek currently serves as the acting foreign minister of the republic.
Zareagoval jsem na oznaméní 🇺🇸 prez. Bidena, který vyzval k osobní schůzce s 🇷🇺 prez. Putinem na území třetího státu. Pověřil jsem naše velvyslance ve Washingtonu a Moskvě, aby nabídli jako možné místo setkání Prahu a navázali tím na summit Obama-Medvěděv. Vše je ale na začatku.— Jan Hamáček (@jhamacek) April 14, 2021
"I have instructed our [Czech] ambassadors in Washington and Moscow to offer Prague as a possible meeting place," he said, adding that in his opinion, Prague would be an excellent venue for the summit as the Czech capital has already hosted similar summits in the past.
Hamacek referenced the Prague meeting between then-presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama back on 8 April 2010.
Austria is also reportedly willing to host the potential summit, according to multiple Russian media outlets, citing sources in the Foreign Ministry in Vienna.
“If Russia and the United States decide to hold a summit at the presidential level, it is commendable. The decision whether, when, and where such a summit will take place depends on both countries. Of course, Austria is always available for high-level negotiations of any kind,” the Austrian Foreign Ministry said.
Finland has also offered to host the summit, according to Russian media reports. It was claimed Helsinki extended the offer during a Tuesday phone call between the country's President Sauli Niinistö and Putin.
Finland hosted a face-to-face meeting between Putin and then-US President Donald Trump in 2018.