Russia expressed hope for constructive talks with the US

Russia expects ‘constructive’ US talks

Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:00:37 GMT

Russia has expressed hope that scheduled talks between senior US and Russian officials at a ministerial level will be ‘constructive.’

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to participate in the so-called 2+2 format consultations with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Friday.

The talks come amid rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA), who was given asylum in Russia on August 1 despite repeated calls by the United States to send him back to the country.

The 30-year-old NSA leaker is wanted in the United States, where he faces charges of espionage and theft of government property.

“Despite the new developments in US-Russian relations, we expect the consultations to be constructive and allow us to prepare the next steps in the strengthening of strategic stability,” RIA Novosti quoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying on Thursday.

On August 7, the White House announced that US President Barack Obama had decided to cancel his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month after Moscow granted asylum to Snowden.

The United States has revoked Snowden’s passport, following his arrival in Russia from Hong Kong on June 23. He remained in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for more than one month before being granted asylum.

Snowden has revealed to the news media details of secret surveillance programs, under which US spy agencies collect massive amounts of data on people’s communications via telephone and the Internet.

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