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Obama cancels visit to Putin: It's about much more than Edward Snowden (+video)

Obama cancels visit to Moscow for a September summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Edward Snowden's asylum was a major reason, but it's only one of many.

By Staff writer / August 7, 2013

Obama cancels visit: President Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, earlier this year. Mr. Obama is canceling plans to meet with Mr. Putin in Moscow next month.

Evan Vucci/AP/File

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Washington

President Obama’s cancellation of a planned Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September reflects more than just White House ire over Russian asylum for fugitive leaker Edward Snowden.

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Retaliating for Russia's decision to give NSA leaker Edward Snowden asylum, President Barack Obama has canceled a planned summit with Vladimir Putin.

The decision also comes amid growing US consensus that the lack of common ground between the two powers on major international issues – from Syria to missile defense and human rights – meant a full-day US-Russia summit was no longer warranted.

Despite the summit cancellation, some US-Russia experts say they still expect to see Mr. Obama sitting down with Mr. Putin on the margins of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg on Sept. 5-6 – if only to salvage the fledgling counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“It’s one thing for the White House to cancel a summit that was to take place in Moscow, it’s quite another for Obama to refuse to see his host in St. Petersburg,” says Dimitri Simes, president of Washington’s Center for the National Interest and a US-Russia expert. “If they do that, the Russians are likely to stop the enhanced counterterrorism that has followed the Boston bombings,” he adds. “One has to ask, how effective is that kind of US diplomacy?”   

Nevertheless, the accent from the White House Wednesday was on the chill in US-Russia relations. As if to underscore the key roles that both the lack of US-Russia cooperation and the Snowden affair played in Mr. Obama’s decision, the White House quickly announced that Obama will now stop in Sweden on his way to Russia for the G20 summit.

The White House statement on the president’s stop in Sweden Sept. 4-5 notes that Sweden is a “close friend and partner to the United States,” and that Sweden “plays a key leadership role on the international stage” in areas of interest to the US.

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