Obama calls off meeting with Putin: White House
Iran Press TV
Wed Aug 7, 2013 2:50PM GMT
The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will not meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit next month.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Wednesday that Obama decided to cancel his face-to-face meeting with Putin after Russia granted asylum to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
'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,' Rhodes said.
In an interview with NBC on Tuesday, the US president said that he was 'disappointed' by Moscow's decision to harbor the American leaker, who is charged with espionage in the United States.
'There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,' Obama said.
'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,' he added.
Obama also defended his decision to attend the G20 summit, an annual gathering of the world's largest economies, which is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg on Sept. 5-6.
The relations between the two countries have been strained over the Snowden case. In addition, the Syrian conflict and Washington's installing of a missile shield system in Eastern Europe are among serious issues damaging the bilateral relations.
Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov criticized the US for raising doubts over Obama-Putin meeting in September.
"The US administration is bringing into question bilateral contact at the highest level. I think this is absolute distortion of reality, it's looking at the world in a crooked mirror," Ryabkov said.
He also said it was "unclear why the United States is blowing up the situation with Snowden."
The whistleblower, who leaked information on top-secret spying programs run by the US government, first fled from the US to Hong Kong and then went to Russia.
Snowden remained holed up in the transit zone of Moscow's international airport for more than a month before Russia granted him a one-year asylum last week.
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