by Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama has canceled a visit to Moscow next month for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but will attend a G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, the White House announced Wednesday.
The move follows Russia’s decision to grant asylum to classified leaker Edward Snowden, who had been holed up for weeks in the international transit zone of Moscow’s airport since fleeing the United States for Hong Kong and then Russia.
Obama confirmed Tuesday night that he still plans to attend the G-20 summit in early September, despite calls from some lawmakers for the U.S. to boycott the gathering.
However, the White House also has said it was reconsidering the “utility” of separate talks with Putin in Moscow that were to take place before the G-20 gathering.
“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,” a White House statement said.
In particular, the statement cited “Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum” as a factor.
“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,” the statement said.
Obama looked forward to the G-20 summit on September 5-6, the White House said, and a separate statement announced the president would visit Sweden before the summit instead of going to Moscow.
On NBC’s “Tonight Show” Tuesday night, Obama said he was disappointed Russia had granted asylum to the former government contractor.
Russia’s leaders have a proclivity for slipping into a Cold War mindset, Obama said, adding that it is essential that cooperation between the two nations continues.
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