Invitation open to Obama, Kremlin says

Aug. 22, 2013 at 9:22 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The invitation extended to U.S. President Barack Obama is still open despite a diplomatic row over secrecy issues, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Obama canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because of concerns over political affairs in Russia and the fallout from the surveillance scandal surrounding Edward Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence analyst granted temporary asylum by the Kremlin.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the diplomatic dust up was a temporary matter.

"The visit has been postponed, not canceled," he was quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "The invitation that Mr. Obama has is still in force, and we hope that he will use it at some point in time."

Bilateral strains have emerged as a result of U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin said it wants assurances its national interests won't be targeted. U.S. lawmakers have expressed additional frustration over Russia's military relationship with Syria.

Putin's crackdown on political opponents, meanwhile, sparked concern from the human rights community.

Obama had been scheduled to meet Putin on the sidelines of the September meeting of the Group of 20 in St. Petersburg.

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