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Swiss gave Putin and Biden watches at Geneva summit

Villa La Grange
Behind the scenes at the summit, symbolic gifts were exchanged. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Switzerland gave watches to US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at this week’s historic summit in Geneva, Swiss public broadcaster RTS reports.

It says Biden chose to give Putin a pair of aviator sunglasses “Made in the USA” and a crystal sculpture of a bison. But these exchanges took place far from the cameras, as protocol requires, so we don’t know if Putin liked his gift or if he returned the favour, RTS adds. It says the bison is a symbol of unity, resilience and stability.

Meanwhile, Le Matin Dimanche newspaper looks at some of the figures from the summit. It says the Americans spent nearly 1.2 million dollars on hotel bills for the occasion, spread between several Geneva establishments. Top of the list was the Intercontinental, where Biden occupied the 650 square metre luxury suite on the top floor.

As for security, 4,000 police and army personnel were deployed, and two kilometres of barbed wire used to cordon off the park around Villa La Grange where the two leaders met. The lakeside area in central Geneva was closed off to the public for 20 hours on a day when the outside temperature was up to 31 degrees. Le Matin writes that 3,000 journalists covered the event. According to the paper, the summit itself lasted 180 minutes.

Hailed as a diplomatic coup for Switzerland, the summit did not produce any dramatic announcements, but in a first sign of bearing fruit, Moscow on Sunday returned its ambassador to Washington.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR