Snowden or No Snowden, Moscow Hopes for Better US-Russia Ties
MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) – The Kremlin has "calmly" accepted that US President Barack Obama will not be visiting in early September as previously planned, but it does hope to improve bilateral relations despite current sticking points, a presidential aide said Friday.
Obama was scheduled to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a gathering of the Group of 20 major economies in St. Petersburg. The White House, however, canceled the visit on Wednesday, citing Russia's granting of temporary asylum to fugitive former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden.
"Considering the discussion in the press and the political environment created in the US over Snowden, we were ready for the visit to either take place or be canceled," Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov told reporters on Friday.
"We have accepted this calmly and know that, nevertheless, sooner or later contacts have to be resumed," Ushakov said, adding that Moscow's invitation remained in force.
Earlier this week, he said Moscow was "disappointed" over the canceled meeting. He said no separate meeting of the two heads of state had been scheduled for the G20 gathering.
"Spy stories have existed throughout the history of Russian-American relations, but never before had anyone exacerbated the issue to this scale," Ushakov said Friday.
Later that day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were scheduled to take part in "2+2 format" talks with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and State Secretary John Kerry in Washington.
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