MOSCOW, July 8 (Itar-Tass) - U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said he is busy preparing President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg in September.
“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 on Monday, July 8.
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.
A Russian expert believes that Venezuela would be the best asylum for Snowden.
“Asylum for Snowden in Venezuela would be the best solution,” State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov wrote on his Twitter account. “That country is in acute conflict with the United States and this can’t make things worse.”
“In fact, he can’t live at Sheremetyevo [Airport in Moscow],” he added.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered “humanitarian asylum” to Snowden in order “to protect him from prosecution of the world’s most powerful governments.”
Maduro made the offer on Friday, July 5, addressing a military parade marking the 202nd anniversary of the country’s independence.
In his opinion, Snowden “did nothing but say the truth” and got prosecuted “by the most powerful empire in the world”.
The Kremlin said 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.