White House: Biden was not endorsing 'prisoner swap' with Russia

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When President Joe Biden called an offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin to engineer a swap of cybercriminals between the two countries "potentially a good sign of progress," he was not endorsing a "prisoner swap," the White House said.

Biden is "not saying he's going to be exchanging cybercriminals with Russia," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday, instead arguing criminals were already held to account in the United States.

"He didn't say, 'prisoner swap.' What he was talking about was accountability and the idea that responsible countries should be held accountable to not harboring cybercriminals and to bring cybercriminals to justice."

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Biden "is prepared to do that in the United States," Sullivan continued, adding Biden would like to see Putin follow suit.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Biden had called Putin's suggestion of a swap involving cyberhackers "potentially a good sign of progress."

He also said he was "open" to extraditing hackers in the U.S. to Russia if, "in fact," they are "committing those crimes."

U.S. companies and government entities have been targeted by hackers in Russia, an issue Biden will broach with Putin when they meet face to face in Geneva on Wednesday for a summit that will include a "working session and a smaller session, as well as a solo press conference," according to the White House.

The president's remarks on Sunday were viewed as an area of possible cooperation during the meeting.

Echoing the Russian leader, Biden had also conceded that relations between the two countries are at a "low point," but he said he was not "looking for conflict."

In a statement, the White House said a solo conference was "the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting."

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A spokesperson for Putin told CNN that the Kremlin was open to a joint press conference but that U.S. officials had pushed back against the idea.

"This is not a contest about who can do better in front of a press conference or try to embarrass each other," Biden said Sunday. "It's about making myself very clear what the conditions are to get a better relationship with Russia."

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Tags: News, White House, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, G7, Vladimir Putin, Russia

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: White House: Biden was not endorsing 'prisoner swap' with Russia

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