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14:58 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Obama's Absence from APEC Summit Normal - State Dept.

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The U.S. State Department has called on journalists not to seek hidden political motives behind President Barack Obama’s absence from the current Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Russia, as well as behind the possibility that Putin’s meeting with State Secretary Hillary Clinton may be too brief.

The U.S. State Department has called on journalists not to seek hidden political motives behind President Barack Obama’s absence from the current Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Russia, as well as behind the possibility that Putin’s meeting with State Secretary Hillary Clinton may be too brief.

“[U.S.-Russian relations] are good. You know that the reset has obviously reaped important dividends, and that’s been important in terms of our relationship,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told journalists on Thursday.

“We have some areas that we definitely disagree on, no doubt Syria at the top of those; but we continue to have a productive relationship with the Russian Federation, and the Secretary looks forward to meeting with a number of foreign leaders, and we’re thankful that they’re hosting APEC,” Ventrell said.

A reporter asked Ventrell to comment on a statement by Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov that the Russian leader is “apparently only going to have very brief talks with Secretary Clinton.”

“I wouldn’t read a lot into some of the things you just said, in terms of, for example, Putin not coming here, or - it’s political season here in the U.S., and so the President wasn’t able to go there,” Ventrell said in response.

“The relationship is strong, and again, a couple of days out we don’t tend to confirm the Secretary’s schedule about what meetings she’ll have and for how long,” he said.

The APEC summit in Russia’s Far East coincides with the 2012 Democratic National Convention in the United States, at which Obama is becoming a candidate for November’s presidential elections. The U.S. leader will be unable to attend the summit due to an ongoing election campaign in his country.

Putin was unable to attend a G8 summit in the United States in May as he was busy forming a new government. Many journalists saw Obama’s refusal to attend the APEC summit in Vladivostok as a response to Putin despite the White House’s assurances that it was not.