US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting. File photo
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to a summit — to be held only if Moscow does not invade Ukraine, France announced on Monday.
Following a frantic new round of diplomacy to avert an all-out war the French leader said, offering is a possible path out of one of the most dangerous European crises in decades.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement he had pitched to both leaders a summit on "security and strategic stability in Europe." The White House said in a statement that Biden had accepted the meeting "in principle" but only "if an invasion hasn't happened."
French President Emmanuel Macron gestures to the media during a meeting. File photo
Both leaders have said yes in principle to the summit, proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron, his office said, with the White House confirming Biden's willingness, though it was notably cautious.
A senior administration official told AFP: "Timing to be determined. Format to be determined so it's all completely notional."
The Elysee added that the summit will be expanded to "relevant stakeholders" and that preparations would start between Russia and the United States on Thursday.
The Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces take part in a military drill outside Kyiv on Sunday. AFP
"We are always ready for diplomacy," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. "We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war."
Messages seeking comment from the Kremlin and from the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy were not immediately returned early on Monday.
Many details about the proposed summit — which was announced after a volley of phone calls between Macron, Biden, Putin, Zelenskiy, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — are not clear.
Macron's office and the White House said the substance of the summit would be worked out by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their meeting planned for Feb. 24. What role Ukraine would play in the summit, if any, was also uncertain.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged his compatriots on Tuesday to stay calm as Russia amasses troops on the border. The rare sanctions threat from the US comes as NATO places forces on standby and reinforces eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to Russia's troop build-up.
"It's certainly not a sign that things are moving in the right direction. It's certainly not a sign that Mr Putin has any intention to de-escalate. And it's certainly not a sign that he is recommitting himself to a diplomatic path forward," Kirby told "Fox News Sunday."
For the second day on Tuesday, there were signs of hope that Europe might avoid war following weeks of escalating East-West tensions as Moscow massed around 150,000 troops on three sides of Ukraine and held massive military drills.
"Yes, I called it genocide," he told reporters in Iowa on Tuesday shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. "It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian."
The report said young villagers from Myanmar were being flown to its Delhi hospital and enticed to sell their kidneys to rich Burmese patients. Apollo Hospitals did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The fire started at a furniture store and quickly engulfed other shops on the ground floor of the building known as Ayesha Manzil, said Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab. He said firefighters doused the flames after hectic efforts.
The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) has warned of fog formation that will affect the horizontal visibility, advising road users and motorists to exercise caution and abide by traffic instructions.
The PTI chief appealed last year in the IHC against the ECP finding that he had unlawfully sold state gifts. However, in January, Imran sought to withdraw that appeal so that another appeal at the Lahore High Court could proceed.