Kremlin: Russia Won't Retaliate Over Obama Summit Snub

Friday, 09 Aug 2013 09:22 AM

 

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MOSCOW — Russia said Friday it would not retaliate over U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to cancel a high-profile meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over a range of disputes.

Putin's top foreign policy aide said Moscow hoped that contacts between the two former Cold War foes would resume shortly, after relations plunged to their one of their lowest levels in the past 20 years.

"We have received this calmly and know that sooner or later contacts will be resumed," Kremlin foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"How would we retaliate? We said we were disappointed but emphasized the invitation remains in force."

The summit with Putin was canceled shortly after Russia awarded a one-year asylum visa to the U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden — a fugitive whose extradition Washington had sought for weeks.

The 30-year-old is wanted in the United States on espionage charges related to his disclosure of classified secrets of high-tech US surveillance programs.

Obama will still be joining other world leaders in St. Petersburg for the Sept. 5-6 G20 summit that Putin will be hosting in his native city.

Obama's direct meeting with Putin had initially been due to be held in Moscow in the runup to the St. Petersburg talks.

Ushakov said no bilateral meeting between the two leaders is currently planned at the G20.

The White House had stressed that its decision to abandon the talks with Putin was linked not only with Snowden but also a range of other irreconcilable differences with the Kremlin that include the crisis in Syria.

Ushakov said Putin had initially been ready to hold direct talks with Obama despite Washington's anger over Snowden.

But the Kremlin aide added that Moscow had also been prepared for the possibility that Obama may decide to cancel the meeting.

"We were both ready for the visit and the possibility that it might be canceled," Ushakov told the Russian news agencies.

"For this reason, we responded calmly (to Obama's decision)," Putin's foreign police aide said.

The White House stressed on Thursday that its contacts with Moscow would not halt completely despite the bilateral summit's cancellation.

The two countries' foreign and defense chiefs will meet in Washington later on Friday for talks likely to focus on Syria and European missile defense — a meeting that both sides said should go ahead despite the most recent spat.

Ushakov said Moscow "was prepared to work with Washington on all issues — both bilateral and international ones."

"Whether President Obama comes or not, we will still be working using other channels," Ushakov stressed.

 

© AFP 2014

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