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US acts irresponsibly by bearing grudge against Russia over Snowden

August 07, 2013, 22:51 UTC+3

The White House’s decision to cancel U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin in September

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MOSCOW, August 7 (Itar-Tass) - The White House’s decision to cancel U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin in September was one of the possible scenarios in bilateral relations after Russia’s decision to give temporary asylum to U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Swnoden, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said.

“This was one of the most probable scenarios after Russia had given political asylum to Snowden,” he said on Wednesday, August 7. “But the world will not turn over and the sky will not collapse because of that,” he added.

Pushkov believes that the U.S. had a choice “to try to overcome the negative things that had happened in bilateral relations by organising a meeting of the two presidents.”

“The U.S. administration has decided to take a pause on this negative note but this will not make problems go away,” Puskov said, adding that “the decision to take offence from Russia over Snowden looks somewhat irresponsibly.”

The MP stressed that Russia had had many reasons to be offended by the United States such as Magnitsky Act, the cases of entrepreneur Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko who have been sentenced in the U.S. to long prison terms for alleged arms and drug smuggling operations, and numerous spy stories. “Nevertheless Russia always opted out for cooperation and I think this is a responsible approach,” he said.

Pushkov noted that “bilateral relations need a new start and international cooperation between Russia and the U.S. is needed for solving major international problems such as North Korea, Iran, Syria and others. At all times when Russia had a choice between taking offence and making a negative pause or even going into confrontation or opting for cooperation, Russia chose the latter. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has decided to go a different way.”

In his opinion, the U.S. has become used to the fact that everything is done in its interests. However now the doctrine that positioned the U.S. as a power that could do everything it wanted unilaterally without the assistance of other countries has failed. “The United States is destined to cooperate with Russia. The U.S. now is not in a position to solve problems on its own and has to work together with other major powers such as Russia, China and others. Obama understands this and I think the U.S. will have to resume cooperation with Russia,” Pushkov said.

He thinks that the current situation should be taken calmly as “bilateral relations need a new action plan, and international cooperation between Russia and the U.S. is inevitable.”

“No matter how much some politicians and political forces in the U.S. resist this, the U.S. will not be able to avoid cooperation or it will never solve its own political tasks inside the country,” he warned.

Andrei Klimov, Deputy Chair of the Committee on International Relations in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament, agreed that by cancelling the visit to Moscow Obama showed that “the domestic agenda” is more important for him than the dialogue with Russia.

“The Americans have put themselves in a trap with Snowden. They cooked up such a story that the American president’s position would have been criticised anyway no matter what happened to Snowden. Now they are trying to manoeuvre and have made a tactical choice in favour of the domestic agenda,” Klimov said.

At the same time, “having sacrificed bilateral meetings with Putin they have not rejected a broad international format,” he added.

Klimov cautioned against overdramatising the current situation in bilateral relations. “We should not forget such behavior but it must not be taken as a signal for a new cold war,” he said.

“There are too many topics that make Russia and the U.S. work on them very intensively - Syria, Afghanistan, nuclear disarmament and security, the fight against terrorism,” Klimov said, adding that “there is no avoiding them. All this will continue. It’s regrettable that the pause in relations will be extended. However this is not a tragedy but a result of the political situation in the U.S.”

The White House said in an official statement earlier in the day that “there is not enough recent progress” in American-Russian relations to hold a bilateral summit in early September.

“We have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a U.S.-Russia Summit in early September,” the White House statement said.

The U.S. values “the achievements made with Russia in the President’s first term,” including the New START Treaty, and cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. However, “given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defence and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda,” the White House said.

The U.S. administration regretted Russia’s “disappointing decision” to grant U.S. National Security Agency leader Edward Snowden temporary asylum and said it was also “a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship.”

“Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship,” the document said.

Obama has cancelled his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September, a U.S. administration official said earlier in the day.

U.S. Deputy National Security Affairs Ben Rhodes said the decision to give temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden had further complicated the already complex relations between the two countries.

At the same time, he noted that the United States continued to work with Russia on issues on which the two countries have common views. However Obama and his team think that the summit is not possible in this situation.

However the White House stressed that President Barack Obama was looking forward to travelling to St. Petersburg on September 5-6 to attend the G-20 Summit.

Obama said in a televised interview on Tuesday, August 6, that he would attend the upcoming G20 summit in St. Petersburg.

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