LOS ANGELES: President Barack Obama is cancelling plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next month — a rare diplomatic snub, according to The Associated Press.
The move is retribution for Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. It also reflects growing US frustration with Russia on several other issues, including missile defense and human rights.
A top White House official says Obama still plans to attend the G20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but has no plans to meet with Putin there one-on-one.
Instead of visiting Putin in Moscow, the president will add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.
The US was expected to alert the Russians on Wednesday morning about Obama’s decision, though the two presidents were not expected to speak directly. Obama and Putin last met in June on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Russia’s decision last week to defy the US and grant Snowden temporary asylum only worsened an already troubled relationship. And with few signs that progress would be made during the Moscow summit on other agenda items, Rhodes said the president decided to cancel the talks.
“We’ll still work with Russia on issues where we can find common ground, but it was the unanimous view of the president and his national security team that a summit did not make sense in the current environment,” Rhodes said.