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Duma speaker hopes asylum to Snowden will not affect Obama’s visit to RF

July 22, 2013, 22:01 UTC+3

The Kremlin said that Obama’s visit to Russia scheduled for this autumn may begin in Moscow and continue in St. Petersburg

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KINGISEPP, Leningrad Region, July 22 (Itar-Tass) - State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin said he was hopeful that Russia’s decision to grant asylum to U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden will not affect U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to visit Russia this autumn.

“I hope that the granting of temporary or political asylum to Snowden will not affect the U.S. president’s trip to Russia in September of this year,” Naryshkin said on Monday, July 22.

“The U.S. president has a firm intention to come and attend a G20 [summit],” he said.

According to Naryshkin, Obama “is a far-looking politician” and the Snowden situation “should not affect his plans.”

The United States has repeated communicated its concern about the situation to the Russian authorities, American Ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul said on his Twitter account.

However Obama is not going to cancel his visit to Russia in September, White House Spokesperson Jay Carney said earlier.

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 earlier.

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.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul also confirmed Obama’s upcoming trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg and said he was busy preparing it.

“I’m busy preparing President Obama’s trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg in September. I am very much looking forward to it,” McFaul said on his Twitter account.

The ambassador thus denied Kommersant’s article that quoted a source in the U.S. Department of State as saying that Obama might cancel his visit to Moscow in September if former CIA agent Edward Snowden is still in Russia by that time.

The Kremlin responded by saying that it was unaware of any such plans on the part of the U.S. administration.

“We are completely unaware of this,” presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told ITAR-TASS earlier in the day. “The visit is being prepared,” he added.

Secretary of State John Kerry called for “calm and reasonableness” in dealing with the Snowden issue.

“We would hope that Russia would not side with someone who is a fugitive from justice. We’re not looking for a confrontation. We are not ordering anybody,” Kerry said.

Snowden arrived in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport from Hong Kong on June 23 and has been staying in its transition zone since then. He has applied for temporary asylum in Russia.

Earlier he had passed to the press information about mass electronic surveillance by the U.S. authorities under the PRISM programme and claimed that American security services watched and recorded people’s actions and conversations even if they did nothing wrong.

He said security services were gathering information primarily about the users of popular search servers and social networks.

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