President Barack Obama has canceled a planned one-on-one summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin that had been scheduled for early September.
In a statement, the White House cited Russia’s “disappointing” decision to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and “lack of progress on issues such as missile defence and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months,” as reasons to cancel the meeting.
While Snowden is the biggest recent flashpoint between the U.S. and Russia, American frustrations also range from Russia’s support of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria to laws restricting gay rights in Russia and a law forbidding adoptions of Russian children by Americans.
Obama will still attend the G-20 summit of major country leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia on Sept. 5 and 6.
And the snub doesn’t mean an end to bilateral talks with Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel will meet their Russian counterparts on August 9 in Washington.
Tonight Show host Jay Leno had asked the president in an interview yesterday whether he would meet with Putin on his trip to Russia and Obama did not give a direct answer.
In that interview, Obama said the Russians sometimes “slip back into Cold War thinking” and that “there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do.”
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