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Geneva's Parc des Eaux-Vives will likely welcome Biden and Putin

Then Vice President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia. President Joe Biden will hold a summit with Vladimir Putin next month in Geneva, a face-to-face meeting between the two leaders that comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia in the first months of the Biden administration. (Keystone/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin/Pool via AP, file)

Since the publication of this story, the main villa of the Parc de la Grange that adjoins the Parc des Eaux-Vives, has been confirmed as the location of the Biden-Putin meeting.

The Parc des Eaux-Vives in Geneva will probably be the place chosen to host the highly anticipated summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, Heidi.news has learnt from a source close to the organisation. The American and Russian presidents are due to meet for the first time on 16 June in Switzerland against a background of high international tensions.

Security reasons. Contacted by phone, the Russian mission in Geneva says it has not received any confirmation of the place of the meeting. The American mission could not yet be reached. As for the protocol service of the canton of Geneva, it refuses to confirm the information, adding that it is only at the service of the parties and that it is they who have control over the choice of venue. This discretion is motivated by obvious security reasons, but also by the tense relations between Russia and the United States prior to the summit so that the slightest diplomatic or logistical faux-pas could derail the affair.

The organisation of the meeting in the Parc des Eaux-Vives, dominated by a hotel-restaurant in public hands, would have collateral effects, notably for an exhibition on adolescence and suicidal risk, which has just opened its doors this Thursday 3 June. The Children Action Foundation, co-organiser of the event with the HUG, will need to think about packing up their installation by 12 June at the latest – a day before they were originally planned to close. However they may need to exit the premises as early as this Sunday 6 June, the communication services of Children Action and the HUG have informed Heidi.news, who are waiting for the confirmation of the closing date.

Sacrificed exhibition. A premature but unavoidable end, because the exhibition takes place in the Parc La Grange, which adjoins the Parc des Eaux-Vives and would also be closed if Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin met there. The possibility of locking down the almost 30 hectares formed by the two parks, which are also "protected" on one of their lengths by the lake, seems to have been decisive for the security services of both countries.

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Parc des Eaux-Vives (M. Girardin / Ville de Genève)

The Parc des Eaux-Vives is not a usual place for meetings between heads of state. Geneva offers more traditional options, such as the Intercontinental Hotel, which is well known for its hospitality and where some of the delegations will be staying. Or the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), or even the Palais des Nations. In November 1985, the first meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev took place at the Villa Fleur-d'Eau in Versoix, headquarters of the American delegation.

Air ballet. If confirmed, the Geneva public may well witness an aerial ballet of helicopters on 15 and 16 June. The Mont Blanc Bridge, which connects the right bank (where the airport, the international organisations and the Russian and American permanent missions are located, as well as the Intercontinental Hotel) to the left bank (where the park is located), is currently undergoing major work that is making traffic even more difficult than usual.

This summit will involve the arrival of some 2,000 people (1,000 in each of the delegations) as well as a thousand journalists. The Federal Council will also be present, with a meeting scheduled for 16 June in Geneva between Joe Biden, President of the Confederation Guy Parmelin and Ignazio Cassis, head of diplomacy.

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This article was originally published in French on Heidi.news