Obama to attend G20 meeting in Russia

Updated: 2013-07-20 07:36


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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama will attend the Group of Twenty (G20) summit slated for September in the Russian city of St. Petersburg despite two American senators' call for a relocation of the meeting over row about fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the White House said on Friday.

"The G20 is a body of 20 nations, Russia is the host of the G20 this year in St. Petersburg," spokesman Jay Carney said at a regular press briefing.

"And its is our intention, the president's intention, to travel to Russia for that meeting," he added, but he did not say whether Obama will have a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as planned ahead of the G20 meeting.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham and his Democratic pal Chuck Schumer introduced a resolution on Friday asking for a changed venue for the G20 summit, in case of Moscow's failure to hand over Snowden to face espionage charges.

Snowden, a 30-year-old former American spy agency contractor, was charged by Washington with espionage and theft of government property following his disclosure in early June of massive secret phone and Internet surveillance programs of the US National Security Agency.

He has been marooned in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since his arrival there on June 23, and he filed an official request for temporary asylum in Russia on Tuesday.

Carney repeated Washington's position that Snowden ought to be expelled and returned to the United States to face charges for " unauthorized leaking of very sensitive classified information."