- President Barack Obama canceled a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin set to be held in Moscow next month, following Russia’s decision to grant asylum to former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, the White House said Wednesday.
U.S.-Russian relations have been strained over Moscow’s handling of Mr. Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker who was granted asylum in Russia last week. The White House had previously signaled Mr. Obama was unlikely to attend a planned one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin next month in Moscow ahead of the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg.
“There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality,” Mr. Obama said of Russia in an interview on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on Tuesday night. “What I continually say to them and to President Putin, that’s the past.”
Mr. Obama still plans to attend the G-20 summit scheduled for early September, which Russia is hosting.
White House spokesman Jay Carney in a statement said the decision came after the Obama administration “reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia” to hold the meeting.
“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,” the statement said. “Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship.”
The White House said it will continue with a Washington meeting later this week between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian officials “to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.”