Obama to meet Baltic leaders ahead of G20 in Russia

AFP , Monday 29 Jul 2013

Obama to meet with Baltic State leaders to 'discuss a broad range of mutual interests,' including energy security, transatlantic trade and defense in run up to G20 meetings in Russia

US President Barack Obama will meet with Baltic leaders on August 30 for talks ahead of the G20 summit in Russia, the White House said Monday.

The joint meeting with the leaders of formerly Soviet Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia "will highlight the significant transformations the Baltic states have undergone since restoring their independence two decades ago," it said.

"The four leaders will discuss a broad range of mutual interests, including regional cooperation on shared challenges, energy security, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, defense, and cyber cooperation."

It said Obama would also discuss joint efforts to advance human rights and democratic values.

The meeting -- with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia, President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, and President Andris Berzins of Latvia -- will come just days before Obama travels to Russia for the G20 summit.

The three formerly Soviet states, which joined the European Union and NATO in 2004-5, have had troubled relations with Moscow and have expressed concern over Obama's push for nuclear disarmament.

Washington has meanwhile been at loggerheads with Russia over the flight of Edward Snowden, the former IT contractor who leaked details of vast US surveillance programs to the media.

Snowden has been marooned in the transit area of a Moscow airport for over a month fleeing US espionage charges.

Russia has refused to apprehend Snowden -- who has not officially crossed the border -- but has yet to accede to his request for asylum.

The United States has revoked his passport, further complicating his plans of seeking shelter in a third country.

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