Obama cancels Putin summit but US-Russia talks to go ahead



Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C partially obscured) and US President Barack Obama in Northern Ireland in June 2013. Obama canceled his summit with Putin in the wake of Russia offering asylum to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.



The White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama canceled his planned Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While Obama will still go to the G20 economic summit hosted in St. Petersburg, he will no longer hold one-on-one talks with Putin.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said, "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."

The already turbulent relationship between the two countries was exacerbated by Moscow granting former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden asylum.

Russia has given Snowden asylum for one year amid protests by the US and threats that the move would damage bilateral relations. However, United States officials confirmed Tuesday that other talks with Russia would proceed, despite the Snowden affair.

The US State Department confirmed Tuesday that Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would meet their Russian counterparts in Washington as scheduled, in September.

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The "two-plus-two" talks will address issues such as the Iranian nuclear program and the Syrian civil war.

Snowden's case will also be raised, a State Department spokeswoman said.

"We would like to see Mr. Snowden return to the United States," spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "I don't know technically what that requires, but we know they have the capability to do that." 

In an interview on the "Tonight Show" on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama said that the US and Russia needed to put their Cold War mentality behind them.

"What I say to President [Vladimir] Putin is, that's the past and... we've got to think about the future. And there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to cooperate more effectively than we do," Obama said.

The BBC reported that members of Snowden's family were currently applying for visas for Russia to visit him.