Obama has canceled a meeting with Putin in Moscow which was scheduled for September, AP reports, Russia Today reported. The move comes after Russia’s recent decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
US President Barack Obama has canceled a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow which was scheduled for September, AP reports, Russia Today reported. The move comes after Russia’s recent decision to grant temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
With few signs that progress would be made during the Moscow summit on this and other agenda items, officials said the president decided to cancel the talks.
"We'll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.
Rhodes also stated that the decision to grant Snowden temporary asylum within Russia’s borders “exacerbated” an already tumultuous relationship between the two nations.
Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, Obama will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.
The decision follows Obama’s comments on Tuesday evening’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno that “here have been times where they slip back into Cold-War thinking and a Cold-War mentality. And what I consistently say to them, and what I say to President Putin, is that’s the past and we’ve got to think about the future, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate.”
A White House official later confirmed the cancellation of the meeting. While Snowden’s temporary residency permit is the catalyst for the summit being called off, the US cites “lack of progress” pertaining to other differences between the two countries.
Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked, was granted one year’s temporary asylum in Russia last Thursday. The whistleblower is wanted in the US on espionage charges after revealing secret NSA surveillance programs to the public.
Among other issues, Russia and the US have considerable differences over the situation in Syria, with the US government determined to see President Bashar Assad ousted from his position. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees gave a green light to arm Syrian rebels at the end of July.
The last time the two leaders met was in June at the G8 Summit in Ireland.
The G20 summit will be held on September 5-6, with the US deeming it sensible to still attend, as the annual gathering brings together the world's largest economies. Obama said that it makes sense for the US to have high-level representation at the event.