President Obama will not travel to Moscow next month to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House announced today, citing Russia's "disappointing decision" to grant asylum to National Security Agency-leaker Edward Snowden and a lack of progress in the U.S.-Russian bilateral agenda.
"Even though we don't have an extradition treaty with them, traditionally, we have tried to respect if there's a law breaker or alleged law breaker in their country. We evaluate it, and we try to work with them," Obama told Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show" Tuesday. "They didn't do that with us, and in some ways it's reflective of some underlying challenges that we've had with Russia lately.
"There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality, and what I consistently say to them and what I say to President Putin is that's 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," he said.
The White House cited a long list of reasons for canceling the bilateral summit with Putin.
"Following a careful review begun in July, 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," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement.
"We value 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 defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last 12 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."
"Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship," he added.
The president will still travel to St. Petersburg on Sept. 5-6 to attend the G-20 Summit.
Shortly after announcing it was canceling the Moscow visit, the White House announced that the president would instead travel to Stockholm before going to Russia.
"Sweden is a close friend and partner to the United States. Sweden plays a key leadership role on the international stage, including in opening new trade and investment opportunities through the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, advancing clean technologies and promoting environmental sustainability," Carney explained.