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Obama may cancel meeting with Putin over Snowden

July 19, 2013 11:05 IST

United States President Barack Obama may cancel his scheduled visit to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, as tension builds up between the two countries over fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, according to media reports.

While there was no official word from the White House, media reports claimed that the government may cancel the Obama-Putin meeting, when the US president travels to Russia to attend the G-20 Summit in St Petersburg.

"President Obama's scheduled trip to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September is in limbo because of the uncertainty surrounding National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, who fled to Russia and is seeking asylum there," the Washington Post reported.

The Obama administration is asking Russia to send Snowden back to the United States where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking classified information.

"In addition to the Snowden case, relations between the United States and Russia have become strained in recent weeks over the ongoing conflict in Syria, disputes over nuclear weapons and concerns about the Putin government's treatment of dissidents," the daily reported.

The New York Times also reported on similar lines.

"President Obama may cancel a scheduled trip to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin in September as the stand-off over the fate of Edward J Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor seeking asylum there, takes its toll on already strained relations between the United States and Russia, officials said Thursday," the daily said.

"Cancelling the meeting in Moscow would be seen as a direct slap at Mr Putin, who is known to value such high-level visits as a validation of Russian prestige," it said.

"While the White House may be using the meeting as leverage to win cooperation as it seeks the return to the US of Snowden, who is now staying at a Moscow airport, the reconsideration also reflects a broader concern that the two countries are far apart on issues like Syria, Iran, arms control and missile defence," The New York Times reported.

Carney on Wednesday refrained from answering questions on the Obama-Putin meeting in Moscow in September.

"The president intends to travel to Russia for the G-20 summit. And I have no further announcements to make beyond what we have said in the past about the President's travel to Russia in the fall," he had said in response to a question.

Last year, when Obama hosted the Group of 8 Summit at Camp David, Putin had turned down the invitation, claiming he was too busy finalising his new cabinet.

Lalit K Jha