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US Evaluating 'Utility' of Obama-Putin Summit Amid Snowden Asylum

RIA Novosti

21:14 01/08/2013

WASHINGTON, August 1 (RIA Novosti) - The White House said Thursday that it is "evaluating the utility" of a planned September summit between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia granted temporary asylum to fugitive former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

"We have a wide range of interests with the Russians, and we are evaluating the utility of a summit," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news briefing Thursday, saying the United States is "extremely disappointed" that Russia gave asylum for one year to Snowden and allowed him to leave the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

While Carney said the White House is examining the usefulness of the planned summit between Obama and Putin scheduled to be held in Russia in September, he said he did not have any formal announcements to make about the US president's schedule.

Snowden's lawyer in Moscow announced Thursday that his client had been granted one year asylum in Russia and left a transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where he had been living since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong on June 23. He is wanted in the United States on espionage and theft charges after leaking classified information about the US National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

Carney said the United States would communicate its disappointment with the decision to grant asylum to Snowden with the Russian government.

"We will obviously be in contact with Russian authorities expressing our extreme disappointment in this decision and making the case clearly that there is absolute legal justification for Mr. Snowden to be returned to the United States," Carney told reporters.

Obama plans to travel to Russia in September for the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg, a trip which includes a scheduled summit with Putin.

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