US, Russian ministers to meet over differences

Updated: 2013-08-07 05:41


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WASHINGTON - The foreign and defense ministers of the United States and Russia will meet here on Friday amid lingering differences over a number of issues including the latest row over the fugitive American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the State Department said Tuesday.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet with their Russian counterparts in Washington, reviving the so-called 2+2 meeting format with Russia last held in 2007, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a daily press briefing.

"The group will discuss a number of pressing bilateral and global issues, including strategic stability, political-military cooperation and regional issues," she said. "We certainly have our share of disagreements with Russia over a number of issues, and I' m sure they will be part of the conversation."

Washington and Moscow differ sharply, among others, on Syria, the missile defense system and the fate of Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia on August 1 despite repeated US calls for his return to face charges at home.

Psaki said she expected her country to raise the issue of Snowden with Russia in Friday's meeting. "We would like to see Mr. Snowden return to the United States," she added. "I don't know technically what that requires, but we know they have the capability to do that."

Russia will not discuss Snowden in the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday. "There is nothing to discuss, " he said.

In his view, Washington had "distorted reality" by indicating a summit between Russian and US presidents scheduled for September might be in jeopardy following the row over Snowden.

The White House said Monday that it was reviewing whether President Barack Obama will proceed with the summit with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

It has said Obama will go as planned to the Russian city of St. Petersburg for the Group of 20 meeting.

Obama sought to reset ties with Russia during his first term and won Moscow's cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran and nuclear arms reduction, but bilateral relations have soured since Putin's return to the presidency in May 2012.