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Obama to decide on Russia trip 'in coming days'

Last week, Russia gave asylum to Edward Snowden, wanted by Washington for leaking details of US surveillance programs

AFP , Monday 5 Aug 2013
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The White House said Monday it would decide "in coming days" whether President Barack Obama will go ahead with a summit in Moscow in early September.

The United States has said it is reviewing whether Obama will meet President Vladimir Putin in Moscow after Russia last week gave asylum to Edward Snowden, who is wanted by Washington for leaking details of US surveillance programs.

"While we have a wide range of interests with the Russians, we are continuing to evaluate the utility of a summit," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

"I think it's fair to say that you can expect we'll have a decision to announce in coming days," he said.

Snowden, a former US government contractor, fled the United States for Hong Kong and later Russia after leaking details of widespread US government monitoring of citizens' communications.

"We obviously disagree with the Russians very strongly about the decision they've made on Mr. Snowden," Carney said.

Carney said that the United States also took issue with Russia on other issues, pointing to its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his campaign against rebels.

"We've made those disagreements plain, both publicly and privately, in our discussions with the Russians," Carney said.

On whether to hold a summit in Moscow, "we are evaluating that against not just our disagreement over Mr. Snowden but some of the other issues where we have failed to see, thus far, eye to eye," he said.

Obama had agreed to meet Putin in Moscow ahead of a September 5-6 summit of the Group of 20 major economic powers in Saint Petersburg.

The White House has not cast doubt on Obama's participation at the G20.

But two US senators, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chuck Schumer, have called for a change in location of the G20 summit if Russia does not hand over Snowden.

Gay rights activists have also urged Obama to step up pressure on Russia over tough news laws on homosexuality.

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