, MOSCOW, May 10 – Russian President Vladimir Putin will miss the upcoming G8 summit in the United States as he is busy forming a government after just starting his third term as head of state, the Kremlin said Thursday.
Putin will however meet US President Barack Obama at the G20 summit in June in Mexico, the Kremlin added, confirming an earlier statement by the White House.
The trip for the May 18-19 G8 summit at the US presidential retreat at Camp David was to have been Putin’s first foreign visit since his inauguration Monday as president after his four-year stint as prime minister.
Putin told Obama in a telephone call he “unfortunately cannot take part in the May 18-19 G8 summit as on those days the formation of the Russian government will — evidently — still not be completed,” the Kremlin said.
“The American side received this information with understanding,” it added. It also confirmed that Putin would be represented by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who until Monday served as president for the last four years.
The Kremlin said that the two presidents agreed to hold a bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in mid-June that is to be hosted by Mexico in the resort of Los Cabos.
Putin’s inauguration on Monday was followed by the confirmation of Medvedev as his prime minister a day later, sealing a job swap scheme first announced in September that stoked anti-government protests.
His trip to Camp David would have been a chance for Putin to build a personal relationship with Obama, whom he has met only rarely — unlike Medvedev who has held frequent talks with the US president.
Medvedev’s presence indicates the “continuity of Russian foreign policy and that the policy of strengthening relations with our partners is to be continued,” Kremlin spokeswoman Natalia Timakova was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Medvedev championed a “reset” in the sometimes testy post-Soviet ties between Washington and Moscow but relations have again frayed in recent months most notably over the West’s planned missile shield in Central Europe.
However the Kremlin’s chief economic adviser Arkady Dvorkovich denied that Putin was sending any political message by missing the meeting, saying he genuinely had his hands full forming the new government.
Under the Russian constitution, the president has the final word on the appointment of ministers who are merely nominated by the prime minister.
“In this case there is a technical problem as it is indeed the president who takes the decision about the composition of the government,” Dvorkovich told Moscow Echo radio.