A report claims the EU and the US are set to end their 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, lifting the threat of billions of dollars in punitive tariffs.

BRUSSELS, Belgium – President Joe Biden seeks to ease trade tensions with European allies as he spends a final day consulting with Western democracies ahead of his long-awaited meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After a pair of summits with world leaders of the Group of Seven in the UK and then with NATO allies in Brussels, Biden meets with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday.

The president has sought to mobilize broad European support for his efforts to counter Russia ahead of his Wednesday meeting in Geneva with Putin. But the US-European relationship is not without tensions.

Biden will meet with top EU officials as the continent’s leaders grow impatient the US president has yet to address Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to impose import taxes on steel and foreign aluminum. There is also a long-standing dispute over the amount of government subsidies each party is unfairly providing to its aircraft-making giant – Boeing in the US and Airbus in the EU.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that the EU and the United States are set to end their 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies, lifting the threat of billions of dollars in punitive tariffs to their economies.

The newspaper said diplomats and officials confirmed on Monday that the parties were close to reaching a deal, after two days of intensive negotiations, and that it could be announced at the EU-US summit.

He said the last hurdle appeared to be getting the deal signed by Germany, France and Spain – Airbus’ three home countries in Europe. The newspaper quotes officials briefed on the talks as saying the deal will likely be a multi-year agreement on subsidy limits.

Even without action on tariffs, White House officials believe they can build goodwill with Europe ahead of Putin’s face-to-face meeting.

To that end, the White House on Tuesday announced the creation of a joint US-EU trade and technology council. The transatlantic council will work on coordinating standards for artificial intelligence, quantum computing and biotechnology, as well as coordinating efforts to strengthen supply chain resilience. Biden appoints Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to co-chair the U.S. side of the effort.

The White House said the two sides will discuss efforts to stem climate change and launch an expert panel to determine how best to reopen travel safely as the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Biden starts his day by meeting Belgian King Philippe and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

The US-EU summit is also expected to include a statement that will address concerns about China’s provocative behavior.

Tuesday’s statement would follow a statement from the NATO summit on Monday that said China is a constant security challenge and that the Chinese are working to undermine the rules-based global order. On Sunday, the G-7 denounced China’s forced labor practices and other human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang province.

Since taking office in January, Biden has repeatedly urged Putin to take action to end Russian-born cyber attacks against businesses and governments in the United States and around the world and has denounced the leader’s imprisonment. of the Russian opposition Alexei Navalny. Biden also publicly released intelligence that suggests – albeit with low to moderate confidence – that Moscow has offered bounties to the Taliban to target US troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Biden and Putin have both described US-Russian relations as being at their lowest.

The Europeans are keen to establish a “high-level dialogue” on Russia with the United States to counter what they say is Moscow’s drift towards authoritarianism and anti-Western sentiment.

At the same time, the 27-nation bloc is deeply divided in its approach to Moscow. Russia is the EU’s largest supplier of natural gas and plays a key role in a series of international conflicts and key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and the conflicts in Syria and Libya.

The hope is that Biden’s meeting with Putin on Wednesday can bear fruit, and no one in Brussels wants to undermine the display of international unity that has been displayed at the G-7 and NATO summits, officials say. of the EU.

In addition to berating China, NATO leaders in their statement on Monday dealt Russia a great blow, lamenting its aggressive military activities and instant war games near the borders of NATO countries as well as the repeated violation of the airspace of 30 nations by Russian planes. .

They said Russia had stepped up its “hybrid” actions against NATO countries by attempting to interfere with elections, political and economic intimidation, disinformation campaigns and “malicious cyber activities”.

“Until Russia demonstrates that it respects international law and its international obligations and responsibilities, there can be no return to the status quo,” NATO leaders wrote. “We will continue to respond to the deteriorating security environment by strengthening our deterrence and defense. posture.”

Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman contributed to this report.

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