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With more at stake, US and Russia cool war of words over l'Affaire Snowden (+video)

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Secretary Kerry toned down his words, saying the US is not looking for a “confrontation” with Russia or any other country, and Mr. Putin said he did not wish to see the Snowden tempest “affect in any way the businesslike character of our relations with the United States.”

Even as Snowden reportedly remained at Moscow’s airport Wednesday – speculation bubbled that he might take Thursday’s scheduled Moscow-to-Havana flight before continuing to Ecuador, a country he has petitioned for asylum – some officials and US-Russia experts said they expect relations between the two powers to simmer down to where they were before the Snowden affair.

In other words, functioning and respectful, if not exactly warm or characterized by a long list of common perspectives. 

“I do hope and expect that whatever has been traded between us [over the Snowden affair] is not going to affect our relations and the other important issues we have to deal with,” says Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Federation’s ambassador to Washington.

Noting that Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet next week to discuss Syria, Ambassador Kislyak says “Syria is too important an issue to both of us” for the two countries to get sidetracked by the Snowden case.

“Arguably it [Syria] is more important to us, given its closer proximity to us and the threat of spillover,” he adds, “so no, we don’t want other things to get in the way.”

In early May, Kerry and Mr. Lavrov agreed on a plan for holding an international conference to reach a political settlement of Syria’s conflict, but little progress has been made since then. United Nations officials now say they see little chance a conference could still be organized for July, the most recent target date for the meeting.

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