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Obama 'disappointed' in Russia's Snowden decision

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Obama disappointed in Russias Snowden decision
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Washington: President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he was “disappointed” that Russia had granted temporary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, defying Obama administration demands that the former government contractor be sent back to the U.S. to face espionage charges.

Mr. Obama, in his first comments about Mr. Snowden since Russia’s decision last week, said the move reflected the “underlying challenges” he faces in dealing with Moscow.

“There have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality,” Mr. Obama said during an interview with NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”

Mr. Snowden, an ex-NSA systems analyst, is accused of leaking details about highly-secretive government surveillance programs. He spent several weeks in the transit zone of a Moscow airport before being granted asylum for a year.

Russia’s decision has pushed the White House to reconsider Mr. Obama’s plans to travel to Russia in September. He said he would attend an international summit in St. Petersburg, saying it was important for the U.S. to be represented at talks among global economic powers. But he did not say whether he planned to attend separate meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The White House has said it was evaluating the “utility” of the meetings with Mr. Putin.

Mr. Obama also criticised a new Russian law cracking down on gay rights activism, saying he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”

Russia has said it will enforce the law when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Asked whether the law would impact the games, Mr. Obama said he believes Mr. Putin and Russia have “a big stake in making sure the Olympics work.”

“I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently,” he said.

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