US President Barack Obama will skip an Asia-Pacific summit in Russia hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September, the White House said on Monday.
The White House made official what had been widely assumed, since the APEC gathering will take place the same week as the Democratic national convention in North Carolina, where Obama will accept his party’s nomination for re-election on Sept. 6.
Both countries have denied using summit decisions to snub the other.
The White House announcement followed Putin’s decision to pull out of a G8 summit hosted this weekend by Obama.
US officials had long signaled that a presidential trip to Vladivostok, Russia, was unlikely so close to the November election, and one Obama aide had dismissed the notion it was retaliation for Putin’s cancelation.
The two leaders have agreed to reschedule their meeting, the first since a rocky encounter in 2009 at Putin’s country house, to the sidelines of a G20 summit in Mexico next month.
Moscow has denied that Putin’s decision to skip the G8 and instead send his junior partner, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, was intended as a slight to Obama. They insist Putin was staying home to fill posts in his new Cabinet.
Putin’s absence could also spare Obama from having to fend off new Republican accusations of being too soft on a former Cold War foe.