Obama has not yet called Putin after vote: White House

Reuters, Friday 9 Mar 2012

The White House spokesman says US President Barack Obama has not yet contacted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin following his re-election, yet he stresses cooperation in global affairs

President Barack Obama waves to the media as he walks from the Oval Office of the White House to the residence, Sunday, March 4, 2012, in Washington. (Photo: AP)

US President Barack Obama has not yet contacted Vladimir Putin following his re-election as Russian president on Sunday, but does intend to, the White House said on Thursday.

Asked whether the silence from Obama was a sign of a cooler relationship between Washington and Moscow following Putin's return as head of state, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the countries would keep collaborating on Iran and other issues.

"I am confident they will speak, I would not read anything into it beyond (their) busy schedules," Carney told reporters after describing a Thursday morning video conference between Obama and the president of Afghanistan, Hamid  Karzai.

Obama made a "reset" of US relations with Russia one of his top foreign policy priorities after taking office three years ago, and had a good working relationship with departing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Official results showed Putin won more than 63 percent of votes in the weekend election, but independent international monitors said the poll was skewed to favor the powerful prime minister who had been president for eight years until 2008.

Opponents demoralized with the former KGB spy's dominance of Russia's political system have branded his victory an insult to the Russian people.

Putin, who was prime minister during Medvedev's four-year presidential tenure, won a new six-year term and could rule for as long as Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, whose 18 years in power have been called the "years of stagnation."

The White House said there would not be a shift in relations between the two countries following the change at the Kremlin.

"We obviously looked forward to continuing to cooperate and work with Russia where we agree on issues, and that is regardless of who the president is," Carney said.

"This is not a personality-based policy. It's a policy, an approach, based on US national interests and the areas where we can reach an agreement with Russia on things like Iran, on trade, and other matters," he said.

Russia's Central Election Commission has said there were no major voting irregularities in the election and Putin said it was a clean victory.


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