US President Joe Biden’s summit meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is not only a "sign of hope" for relations between the countries but, for the whole world, the Swiss president said on Tuesday.
Guy Parmelin’s remarks came after he had a 30-minute talk with Biden at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, where the US president is staying.
"Switzerland is convinced that a constructive dialogue is necessary between the great powers so that we can meet the challenges of our time," said Parmelin after the meeting, describing his talks with Biden as "warm.”
The meeting is a "sign of hope" after the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, said Parmelin from the Swiss city which is under a security lockdown due to Wednesday's meeting.
Meanwhile, a few dozen people protested against Putin in the Plainpalais area in Geneva, the Swiss national broadcaster RTS reported.
Still, Putin was only due to arrive Wednesday, although his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived on the same day as Biden.
Foreign Minister Cassis stressed Switzerland's important role on the world stage. "We have to take on global challenges," he told reporters, noting Switzerland’s "good offices" in taking care of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran, which have no such ties.
"It is important that we continue on this way," said Cassis.
Biden and Parmelin began a bilateral meeting at Geneva's international airport the day before Putin was due to fly in from Moscow at around midday.
Switzerland is hosting Wednesday's summit at the historic 18th-century Villa La Grange in Geneva.
In the middle of a park, the Villa La Grange was the location of another historic meeting some 36 years earlier when US President Ronald Reagan met with the leader of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
That Geneva Summit was seen as an essential step in improving relations between the two countries.