Vladimir Putin says he's ready to talk, but the White House is asking French officials to keep President Barack Obama and the Russian leader apart during upcoming gatherings of world leaders in Paris to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Reuters reported on Wednesday
that Obama, Putin and newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be at the same event, being held Friday at the 18th century Chateau de Benouville, making it a perfect backdrop for discussing the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, where the government continues to battle with pro-Russia militants after Russia's invasion of Crimea.
Putin told European radio in the week preceding the event, "I am ready for dialogue," however as of Thursday there was no meeting scheduled that included both Obama and Putin among the bilateral sessions or accompanying dinners surrounding the D-Day luncheon.
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"There is no reason to think President Obama does not want to talk to the Russian President," said Putin. "It's his choice."
According to a report published Thursday by Reuters
, because "the U.S. leader has so far shunned the opportunity" to meet with Putin, France's President Francois Hollande will be forced "to shuttle between the two men."
"Underscoring the sensitivities," it wrote, Hollande will head to "a chic restaurant overlooking the Champs-Elysees avenue to dine with Obama before going back to his residence for a late supper with Putin."
French diplomats confirmed that Hollande holds himself responsible for getting Putin and the newly-elected Poroshenko to shake hands, which would be an acknowledgement of the Ukrainian leader's legitimacy the day before he is sworn in.
"What's at stake is Ukraine, it is stability and it is security," Hollande said Wednesday. "France is welcoming the world on June 5 and 6 so it gives us a specific responsibility."
Asked if he was willing to meet Poroshenko, Putin told television reporters, "You know, I don't plan to evade anyone. There will be other guests, and I'm not going to avoid any of them. I will talk with all of them."
The Friday luncheon will come just a few days after video footage of Obama working out during his recent trip to Poland was leaked on Facebook.
Inevitably, pundits and citizens began comparing the footage to Putin's past workout antics and blatant displays of masculinity, including his judo routines, shooting of guns while shirtless, and tiger petting. The Washington Post penned the headline
, "So it appears Vladimir Putin can totally pump more iron than President Obama."
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