Fri, Aug 09, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Obama scraps Putin meet over Snowden, frayed ties

AFP, WASHINGTON

“There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,” Obama said. “What I consistently say to them, and what I say to President 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.”

Carney told reporters that Obama had not heard back from Moscow on the canceled visit, but added the president and Putin had recently spoken about a variety of topics, including Snowden.

In the Russian capital, Putin’s top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov told reporters it was clear that the Snowden asylum decision had tipped the scales.

“This problem emphasizes that the United States, as before, is not ready to build relations on an equal basis,” Ushakov said, accusing Washington of thwarting the signing of a bilateral extradition agreement.

Steven Pifer, a Russia specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the cancelation of the summit, while rare, was hardly surprising.

The US “just didn’t see the value of a summit meeting in terms of moving the ball forward on big issues,” Pifer told reporters, although he held out hope for improvements in relations in the long term. “It’s a serious bump on the road, but the fact that the administration is saying ‘let’s go ahead and have the ministers meet’ — my impression is that they’re ready to cooperate where cooperation is possible.”

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