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Obama cancels meeting with Putin over Snowden tensions

August 7, 2013

Tensions between Russia and the United States reached a fever pitch when the former nation granted former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden political asylum for one year. This source of conflict caused President Barack Obama to cancel a planned conference in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Associated Press. The potential ramifications of these issues may be the subject of conversations between those in the political arena, conducted using international calling cards.

When it became clear that former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden was hiding out in Sheremetyevo International Airport, U.S. authorities immediately demanded his extradition. Putin refused, stating that because Snowden remained in the airport's transit zone, which is considered international territory, Russian law enforcement had no grounds to detain him. The leaker remained holed up in Sheremetyevo for several weeks before his temporary asylum application was approved, and soon after escaped to an unknown location. During this time, Obama and other American officials continually stated that Russian refusal to interdict and extradite Snowden would have severe political repercussions.

In an Aug. 6 interview on The Tonight Show, Obama rebuked Putin's approach to this issue. At that time, the president had not confirmed his refusal to personally meet the Russian head of state.

"In some ways it's reflective of what's been going on with Russia lately," Obama said. "There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality. What I continually say to them and to President Putin is that's the past."

The AP reported that this dispute would not interrupt Obama's plans to attend the upcoming G20 conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, but that he would not have any personal summits with Putin at that time or in the foreseeable future. However, various officials in Obama's cabinet, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, plan on an Aug. 9 conference with Russian diplomats in Washington, D.C.

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