6 August 2013, 00:23

Obama plans to attend G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia - White House

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On Monday White House Spokesperson Jay Carney stated that US President Barack Obama is planning to attend the upcoming G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. He said the president’s schedule has not changed and includes his trip to the summit in St. Petersburg.

Carney stressed that the G20 summit is an international forum and the United States would discuss international issues there.

He said the United States was still studying the value of the summit and had a number of questions concerning Russia. The spokesperson stressed that the two countries disagree not only over former National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden but also over other issues, including Syria.

Carney said the US would announce its decision shortly.

He said earlier that Obama was not going to cancel his visit to Russia in September.

The journalists asked him whether Obama would only go to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg or would also travel to Moscow as was planned initially.

Carney said he had nothing new to say on this matter and reiterated that the president would go to Russia in September.

Obama will visit Russia in September, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

US Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing on Thursday, August 1, that the Russian authorities’ decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden was “an extremely disappointing step.”

She said the US authorities “continue to press with the Russian Government that Mr. Snowden needs to be returned to the United States where he will face a free and fair trial.”

Harf stressed that “this move by the Russian Government undermines a longstanding record of law enforcement cooperation, particularly since the Boston Marathon bombings. So we will continue to make that point with the Russian Government at all points in this process.”

She said “Mr. Snowden is wanted on very serious charges and that he needs to be returned to the United States to face those charges.”

At the same time, Harf confirmed that there are areas where the two countries work together. “We’ll continue to do so because it’s in our interest to do so. There are areas where we disagree, as we’ve talked about, not just Snowden but others. And again, we’re evaluating our summit, the 2+2. We’re looking at that right now. So clearly this could have an impact, but the relationship is a broad one where we have many national security interests as well,” she said.

Harf said the US government could not say at this point whether the American and Russian foreign and defence ministers would have talks this week.

She said the US was still assessing the situation and stressed that Washington will continue the dialogue with Russia on such issues as Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

The talks were scheduled to be held in Washington on August 9. Last week, the US said it was studying the advisability of holding the talks in the 2+2 format following Russia’s decision to give temporary asylum to Snowden.

Obama is scheduled to come to Moscow in early September to meet with President Vladimir Putin ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

However mass media reports quoted a source in the US Department of State as saying that Obama might cancel the visit if Snowden would still be in Russia by that time.

On July 8, US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said he was busy preparing Obama’s visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The Kremlin said that Obama’s visit to Russia scheduled for this autumn may begin in Moscow and continue in St. Petersburg where a G20 summit is to be held on September 5-6.

“We proposed a full-scale visit [by Obama], the invitation was handed over last year and we will now be working on concrete parameters of this visit,” presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said earlier.

“We would prefer it [the visit] to take place in Moscow and then the two presidents could continue working at the G20 in St. Petersburg,” he said.

At the same time, the aide said the programme of the visit “is not fully agreed yet.”

“This is routine diplomatic work. There will be a meeting of the two presidents in Northern Ireland first [at the G8 summit on June 17-18],” Ushakov said.

Obama to decide soon on whether to attend Moscow summit

The White House will have an announcement in coming days about whether President Barack Obama will attend a summit in Moscow this fall, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.

"We are continuing to evaluate the utility of a summit," Carney told reporters at a briefing. "You can expect that we'll have a decision to announce in coming days about that specific issue."

The United States was disappointed that Russia gave political asylum to former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Obama is scheduled to attend a conference of the Group of 20 major world economies in Russia in the fall and was contemplating a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Voice of Russia, TASS, Reuters

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