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Wed August 7, 2013
Obama Cancels One-On-One Meeting With Putin
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 9:12 am
President Obama has canceled a one-on-one September summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House says.
It's the most dramatic effect so far on U.S.-Russian relations in the wake of Russia's decision to grant "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden temporary asylum while he tries to get safe haven in some third country.
Word of the decision not to meet with Putin was first reported by The Associated Press earlier Wednesday morning. The White House then confirmed the news in statements sent to NPR and other news outlets.
Obama is still set to attend the G20 summit of world leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Sept. 5 and 6 — which Putin will host. The meeting that's being canceled was to have been between Obama and Putin in Moscow while the president is in Russia.
As NPR's Michele Kelemen and others have reported, and as the president said Tuesday on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the U.S. is disappointed in Russia's decision to give Snowden temporary asylum. Snowden, a former contractor for companies that do business with the National Security Agency, earlier this summer shared secrets about NSA surveillance programs with The Guardian and The Washington Post.
Update at 9:35 a.m. ET. White House Says Decision Came After "Careful Review."
This statement was just emailed to reporters from the White House press office:
"Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September. We value the achievements made with Russia in the president's first term, including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea.
"However, 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 twelve 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.
"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.
"Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, Aug. 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.
"The president still looks forward to traveling to St. Petersburg on September 5-6 to attend the G-20 Summit."