President Obama has canceled plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at an upcoming summit in Moscow, reports the Washington Post. The White House cited Russia's decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, as well as human rights and arms control concerns.
Obama had intended to visit Russia’s capital and meet with Putin in advance of next month’s Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg. But he has decided he will not meet with Putin one-on-one — a rare diplomatic snub — and will attend only the G-20 summit.
"Following a careful review begun in July, we have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
Carney cited a "lack of progress" with Russia over the past 12 months on a broad range of issues including missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security and human rights and civil society issues. Carney added that Russia’s “disappointing decision” last week to grant Snowden temporary asylum, allowing him to live and work in Russia for up to a year, was also a factor.
The Kremlin says it is "disappointed", reports RT.
By calling off Obama’s visit to Moscow, the US has shown it is not ready to build relations on an equal footing, the Kremlin says. The Snowden situation, on which the decision was based, is not Russia’s fault, presidential aide Yury Ushakov stressed.
"We are disappointed by the US administration’s decision to cancel the visit of President Obama to Moscow that was planned for the beginning of September. It is clear that the decision is related to the situation around the former intelligence agency employee Snowden – something that was created not by us," Ushakov told reporters.
"Wednesday's announcement is likely to further strain the relationship, even as the U.S. seeks Russia's cooperation on Syria and other pressing issues," adds the Associated Press.