Kremlin says it will 'study' US proposal for Putin-Biden summit

Then US Vice-President Joe Biden (left) and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meeting in Moscow in this 2011 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday (April 14) it will consider United States President Joe Biden's proposal to hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a phone call on Tuesday, Mr Biden proposed that the two leaders hold a summit "in the near future" that would come at a time of heightened tensions between the former Cold War rivals.

"It is early to talk about this meeting in terms of specifics. This is a new proposal and it will be studied," Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He added that there is still no set agenda for the summit, but said that "without a doubt bilateral ties are important" in areas of mutual interest.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have escalated in recent weeks, with Russia building up its troops on the border with Ukraine, where government forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The US and its allies have called on Moscow to withdraw its forces.

"We consider the concerns of anyone - including the United States - regarding the movement of our armed forces on Russian territory to be unfounded," Mr Peskov said.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied its involvement in the long-simmering conflict and rejected claims that it props up the separatist forces.

Ties were already strained after Washington demanded the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and slapped sanctions on Moscow over his poisoning in August last year.

Mr Peskov, however, said that Navalny was not discussed in the Putin-Biden call.

A Kremlin statement on Tuesday said that the two leaders discussed Ukraine, as well as the Iranian nuclear programme, Afghan peace talks and climate change.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.