By Steve Holland
CARBIS BAY, England (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a solo news conference after meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, denying the former KGB spy an elevated international platform to castigate the West and sow discord.
Putin's bravura performance at a 2018 news conference with Donald Trump led to shock when the then U.S. president cast doubt on the findings of his own intelligence agencies and flattered the Russian leader.
Talking about the summit alone will also spare Biden, 78, from open jousting with Putin, 68, before the world's media after what is certain to be a combative encounter.
"We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward," a White House official said.
"A solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting — both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns."
Biden will meet Putin on June 16 in Geneva for a summit that will cover strategic nuclear stability and the deteriorating relationship between the Kremlin and the West.
Putin, who has served as Russia's paramount leader since Boris Yeltsin resigned on the last day of 1999, said ahead of the meeting that relations with the United States were at their lowest point in years.
Asked about Biden calling him a killer in an interview in March, Putin said he had heard dozens of such accusations.
"This is not something I worry about in the least," Putin said, according to an NBC translation of excerpts of an interview broadcast on Friday.
The White House has said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia, Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, the jailing of dissidents and other issues that have irritated the relationship.
Biden has said that the United States is not seeking a conflict with Russia, but that Washington will respond in a robust way if Moscow engages in harmful activities.
Russia says the West is gripped by anti-Russian hysteria and that it will defend its interests in any way it see fit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting G7 leaders including Biden at a summit in southwestern England, told CNN that Biden would be giving Putin some "pretty tough messages, and that's something I'd only approve of".
(Reporting by Steve HollandWriting by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael HoldenEditing by Frances Kerry)
U.S. up to 276 mass shootings in 2021 after violence in Austin, Savannah, Dallas and Chicago: report
America's epidemic of gun violence continues to soar in 2021.
"As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, it has a staggering and grim new statistic to contend with for 2021," CNN reported Saturday. "So far this year, we have suffered 267 mass shootings. That's the new tally after four incidents occurred across the country between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning, according to the Gun Violence Archive."
"Gunmen killed at least two people and injured at least 34 more in Austin, Texas; Dallas; Savannah, Georgia; and Chicago," CNN explained. "Today, as four more cities struggle in the wake of large-scale gun violence, Orlando still feels the club's absence, which is particularly painful for LGBTQ residents and LGBTQ people of color."
The network broke down four recent incidents.
"At least 13 people were injured early Saturday morning in a shooting in downtown Austin, Texas, officials said.Two were in critical condition, Austin Interim Chief of Police Joseph Chacon said at a news briefing Saturday," CNN reported. "A shooting in Savannah, Georgia, on Friday killed one person and injured at least eight others, including a 2-year-old and a 13-year-old, police said."
"Dallas police are investigating a shooting that injured five people Friday, including a 4-year-old girl," CNN reported. "The four adult victims, all women, were taken to local hospitals and had injuries that were not life-threatening, police said."
"Police were looking for two gunmen in a shooting in Chicago early Saturday that sent 10 people to the hospital, where one woman died," CNN reported.
Country superstar Reba Mc Entire was added to a list of special guests for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem 's (R) fundraiser. However, there is just one problem: according to McEntire she had no clue she had been invited to the event.
According to The Daily Beast, McEntire on Friday took to Twitter to offer a different side to the story. The famed singer tweet explained that she had no involvement whatsoever with the planning of the event as the governor's invitation was made without her consent.
Admitting that she does not get involved in politics, McEntire also confirmed that she will not be attending the event.
"Last night, an invitation to a political fundraiser with my name attached was sent out without my knowledge or permission. I had and have no plans to attend this event and had told the event organizers as such," McEntire wrote on Twitter. "Throughout my career, I have stated that I do not get involved in politics and that remains true today."
However, Noem's spokesman, Ian Fury, pushed back against the claims insisting he had written consent that the singer would attend the event although he insisted that "the Governor is a huge fan of Reba."
The event, which cost approximately $500 per person, is scheduled for Sunday, June 13. Noem's office has yet to respond to the latest reports.
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