Obama Cancels Meetings With Putin Amid Tensions
President Barack Obama is canceling plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next month.
The move is in retribution for Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. But it also reflects growing U.S. frustration with Russia on an array of other issues, including missile defense and human rights.
The White House says Obama still attends to plan the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, but has no plans to meet with Putin there one-on-one. Obama will also add a stop in Sweden to his early September travel itinerary.
The U.S. planned to alert Russia of the president's decision Wednesday, though Obama and Putin were not expected to speak directly. Obama is on a two-day trip to California.
Obama's decision to scrap talks with Putin is likely to deepen the chill in the already frosty relationship between the two leaders. They have frequently found themselves at odds on pressing international issues, most recently in Syria, where the U.S. accuses Putin of helping President Bashar Assad fund a civil war. The U.S. has also been a vocal critic of Russia's crackdown on Kremlin critics and recently sanctioned 18 Russians for human rights violations.
For its part, Moscow has accused the U.S. of installing a missile shield in Eastern Europe as a deterrent against Russia, despite American assurances that the shield is not aimed at its former Cold War foe. Putin also signed a law last year banning U.S. adoptions of Russian children, a move that was seen as retaliation for the U.S. measure that cleared the way for the human rights sanctions.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)