High-level US-Russia meeting to go ahead despite Snowden row
August 7, 2013 10 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Senior United States officials will hold high-level talks with their Russian counterparts later this week, despite Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to an American intelligence defector. For many weeks, Washington pressured the Russian government to extradite Edward Snowden, a former computer expert for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). But Snowden, who had sought refuge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, was granted temporary asylum by Russian authorities last week, prompting angry responses from the American side. According to reports, US President Barack Obama has been considering whether to cancel his attendance of a prearranged summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September [20:00 GMT update: meeting has been cancelled] . But on Tuesday, the US Department of State confirmed an earlier report by news agency Reuters, which claimed that a series of meetings between American and Russian officials would still take place this week, despite the Snowden imbroglio. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told journalists that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry would meet, as planned, with their Russian counterparts, in Washington on Friday. The Russian delegation will be visiting the US capital to discuss “pressing bilateral and global issues”, including Iran and Syria, Psaki said. In response to a question by reporters, the State Department spokeswoman said that the two sides would discuss the Snowden case. “We have raised Mr. Snowden with Russian officials many times in recent weeks. We expect to do so again”, she said. Late on Tuesday, President Obama appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show, and spoke about Snowden. He told the show’s presenter, Jay Leno, that the Snowden case “is the past and [...] we’ve got to think about the future. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do” with Russia. Meanwhile, Snowden’s legal team told reporters that the former US intelligence insider is now officially registered as a resident of Russia and that several members of his family have applied at the Russian embassy in Washington, DC, for visas, so they can visit him in Russia soon.