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Swiss villa to host first Biden-Putin summit

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This 18th-century Swiss villa overlooking Lake Geneva will play host to the first summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the tranquil setting belies what will likely be a scene of tense, adversarial talks.

Bitter disputes over election interference, cyber-attacks, human rights and fighting in Ukraine hang over their first face-to-face meeting.

The Swiss police and army have closed the two parks surrounding the Villa La Grange and installed barricades and barbed wire.

Neutral Switzerland, which did not join Western sanctions against Russia after Moscow seized and annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, lobbied hard to land the first big power summit in the Alpine country in decades.

The country hosted the 1985 nuclear summit between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was in Geneva in 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a yellow box bearing a red "reset" button to symbolize improved ties under President Barack Obama.

But the word "reset" was mistranslated into the Russian word for "overcharge", creating an awkward moment.

The Russian leader is certainly expecting a different sort of discussion than he enjoyed with the last U.S. president.

Donald Trump often praised Putin, despite his own intelligence agencies assessment that Moscow was behind cyber-espionage and election meddling.

Russia denies allegations it interfered in U.S. politics.

Biden on Wednesday departed on his first trip abroad since taking office for a G7 gathering in the U.K., and ending with the Putin summit in Geneva next week.

The eight-day mission to Europe aims to rebuild trans-Atlantic ties strained during the Trump era.

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