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Biden’s ‘killer’ comments won’t scupper summit with Putin, Kremlin insists, as US & Russia reportedly close to agreeing on talks

That’s according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who told reporters on Wednesday that Moscow did not want the incident to overshadow efforts to repair ties. Biden caused consternation among Russian politicians and commentators in March when he was asked whether he believed Putin to be a “killer” in an interview with the ABC news channel. “Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied.

The ensuing diplomatic furore saw top politicians in Moscow accuse the US president of launching an attack on the whole country, with parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin bemoaning a decline in civility and respect in international relations. Putin himself was more circumspect, citing a childhood mantra that “what you say [about others] is what you are yourself.”

Peskov, however, said the Kremlin was now looking to draw a line under the row, and would focus on more important issues, insisting the spat will not be “the main thing” if the two leaders agree on a meeting later this year. Asked whether Putin was prepared to move past the insult, the official said that “we are talking about strategic stability here – it is something that concerns the whole world… And along with the state of our bilateral relations, these are the topics on the agenda.”

During a call amid growing tensions in April, Biden pitched the idea of an in-person summit to Putin. According to the US president, a meeting would help the two sides to “discuss the full range of issues facing the US and Russia.” He set out his goal of achieving “a stable and predictable relationship with Russia, consistent with US interests.”

READ MORE: Biden invites Putin to crunch summit amid deteriorating ties between Russia & US, as American warships chart course for Black Sea

There had been an initially lukewarm response in Moscow, which said only that it would consider the request. However, on Wednesday, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov hinted to journalists that officials might be ready to reach a potential agreement “in the near future.”

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