Obama Cancels Meeting With Putin Amid Tension Over Snowden

August 7, 2013 | By | Reply More

Aug 07, Washington: President Barack Obama has canceled a planned summit with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, officials said on Wednesday, a response to frustration at the Russian government for refusing to send Edward J Snowden, the fugitive intelligence analyst, to the United States to face charges of leaking national security secrets.

The move is also a reflection of growing tensions between the two countries on a series of other issues, including Putin’s continuing support of President Bashar Assad of Syria.

In a statement, the White House said the president had decided to postpone the summit between the two leaders after concluding that there had not been enough progress made on the “bilateral agenda” to make a meeting worthwhile.

“Given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last 12 months, we have informed the Russian government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said in a statement.

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Carney said Russia’s “disappointing decision” to grant temporary asylum to Snowden was “also a factor” in Obama’s decision.

The daylong summit between the two leaders had been anticipated for months. It was to have taken place in Moscow in September around the time that Obama travels to St Petersburg, Russia, for a meeting of the Group of 20 economic summit. Officials said Obama will still travel to Russia for the economic discussions with other world leaders.

But Washington had signaled for weeks that the White House was growing annoyed by Putin’s intransigence, especially on the fate of Snowden, who had been holed up for a month in a Moscow airport. Russia’s decision to extend temporary asylum to Snowden last week added to the frustration, officials said.

In a late-night interview with Jay Leno on the “Tonight Show” on Tuesday, Obama expressed that frustration, saying that the decision on Snowden was “reflective of some underlying challenges that we’ve had with Russia lately.”

“There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,” Obama added. “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 more effectively than we do.”

Obama’s decision to forgo the summit with Putin, which was first reported by The Associated Press, is a blow to Putin that will deprive him of a high-profile moment on the worldwide stage. It also threatens to add to the already chilly relationship between the two countries.

Several lawmakers in the United States had urged Obama to cancel the summit with Putin, arguing that there should be consequences for the Russian government’s refusal to cooperate on returning Snowden to face charges.

In a statement on Wednesday, Senator Charles E Schumer, D-New York, praised the cancellation.

“The president clearly made the right decision,” Schumer said. “President Putin is acting like a schoolyard bully and doesn’t deserve the respect a bilateral summit would have accorded him.”

Press writer for HRO Media – contributed to this report.

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Category: International

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