U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday agreed to launch a "stability" dialogue that they say will lead to future arms control, but remained at odds over their positions on human rights and other issues.
"The United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future," the two leaders said in a statement following their summit in Geneva. "Through this dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures."
The statement also said they reaffirmed that a nuclear war "cannot be won and must never be fought," a principle that dates back to 1985.
Biden met Putin for the first time since taking office in January, aiming to build a more "stable and predictable" relationship with Moscow as Washington steps up its efforts to counter China's growing assertiveness.
But the meeting produced no major breakthrough in the relationship between the two countries, which has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years following Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, its alleged meddling in U.S. elections and suspected poisoning and jailing of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.
Most recently, U.S. energy and other infrastructure was hit by cyberattacks by actors believed to be based in Russia.
Biden came to Switzerland on the final leg of his weeklong tour of Europe, during which he engaged with other leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union to showcase unity among democracies against what the U.S. leader labels autocracies such as Russia and China.
He told a press conference after the three-hour summit that he made clear to Putin that the United States "will not tolerate attempts to violate our democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections."
He also said the United States will continue to raise human rights issues with Moscow and warned that Russia will face "devastating" consequences should Navalny die.
But Putin, who separately held a press conference after the summit, showed little interest in the concerns over the treatment of Navalny while dodging the issue of responsibility for the cyberattacks by insisting that many such attacks come from U.S. territory.
Despite the differences, Biden, speaking at the press conference, said he told Putin there are areas where there is a "mutual interest" to cooperate, not just for their peoples but also for the benefit and security of the world.
"One of those areas is strategic stability," he said.
The envisioned Strategic Stability Dialogue will bring together experts to work on a mechanism that can lead to the control of "new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now," which reduce the times of response and raise the prospects of accidental war, according to Biden.
He also later told reporters that the two countries have an agreement to work on "a major arms control agreement," but added, "We will see whether or not it happens."
In February, the United States and Russia agreed on a five-year extension of the last remaining treaty capping their nuclear arsenals -- the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The New START limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armament.
Upon the extension of the treaty, the United States said it is eager to use the time provided by the extension to work with Russia toward addressing all of its nuclear weapons, beyond those affected by the New START, and also aims to pursue arms control with China to reduce the dangers from Beijing's growing nuclear arsenal.
The United States and Russia, meanwhile, agreed on Wednesday to return their respective ambassadors to Washington and Moscow.
Biden angered Russia in March by saying in a TV interview that he thought Putin was a "killer," apparently with Navalny's treatment in mind. The remarks had led Russia to recall its ambassador to Washington, and the United States responded similarly.