Preparations for a bilateral meeting of President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama in Moscow in September continue despite the developments involving former CIA employee Edward Snowden, Kommersant daily reported on Monday.
"We are in constant contact with our colleagues trying to make the meeting eventful to the utmost," Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said to the daily.
Kommersant notes that earlier The New York Times quoting informed sources said that Obama will hardly visit Moscow, if Snowden still remains in Sheremetyevo.
Meanwhile, a Kommersant source close to the State Department has confirmed such an approach noting that it was made known to the Russian leadership along diplomatic channels.
The source said that Washington left the question of Obama's participation in the September summit open and did not rule out that Vice President Joe Biden would fly to G20 in St. Petersburg instead of Obama.
Peskov told Kommersant that "the Kremlin knows nothing of it [Obama's ultimatum]." He said that the current efforts in the framework of preparations for Obama's visit to Russia indicate the opposite.
"The situation is crystal clear - Russia is not to blame that Snowden is unable to leave the transit zone," Peskov added.
Head of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Alexei Pushkov also told Kommersant that "Russia is not responsible for the situation involving Snowden."
However, he admitted: "The situation with Snowden is creating additional tension in relations with Washington that are complex as they are."
"Of course, it would be better, if it were settled before Obama's visit to Moscow. And judging by the way things are unfolding, that is how it is going to be," Pushkov hoped.
Obama is expected to arrive in Moscow on September 3-4 for a bilateral meeting with Putin ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.
Wikileaks reported last Friday that Snowden had requested political asylum in six more countries. It did not specify the countries for fear of U.S. interference.
Snowden fled to Hong Kong in May after which he exposed the secret operations of U.S. special services. Presently he is in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport which he cannot leave because his American passport has been cancelled. He has requested several counties to offer him asylum. The United States insists on his extradition.
All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.