, WASHINGTON, Aug 7 – US President Barack Obama has decided to put off a Moscow summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the White House said on Wednesday, citing a lack of progress in relations and ‘disappointment’ over the Edward Snowden affair.
Obama talked about the souring relationship with Moscow in a talk show interview late Tuesday, accusing the Russians of slipping back “into a Cold War mentality.”
In a statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that while the United States valued what had been accomplished with Russia in Obama’s first term, there had not been enough progress to warrant a summit.
“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,” Carney said.
“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,’ he said.
Russia last week granted a year’s temporary asylum to Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor who revealed the existence of US electronic surveillance programs that scoop phone and Internet data on a global scale.
Obama was to meet with Putin in Moscow in early September after a G20 summit in Saint Petersburg.
The White House said Obama still planned to attend the summit on September 5-6, and announced he would visit Sweden before heading to Russia.
“Sweden is a close friend and partner to the United States,” the White House said.
It added that US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would meet with their Russian counterparts in Washington on Friday “to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship.”