08/07/2013, 00.00
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Despite Snowden's asylum, Obama will be at the G20 in St Petersburg

by Nina Achmatova
The US president speaks out for the first time on the matter after Moscow granted asylum to the US fugitive whom the US still wants extradited. According to Russian experts, Washington's rebuff will not go beyond the diplomatic level because the White House needs the Kremlin.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - US President Barack Obama spoke about the Snowden affair for the first time since Russia granted temporary asylum to the US specialist who disclosed the existence of a secret US electronic surveillance programme that monitored phone and internet communication.

During an appearance on the Tonight Show yesterday evening, Obama said he was disappointed with Moscow's decision, but added that he would not stay away from a G20 summit scheduled for 5-6 September in St Petersburg. However, he did not say whether he would meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a bilateral summit. The White House has also not confirmed the face-to-face meeting.

The US State Department did announce that a "2 +2" meeting between the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments of the two countries, scheduled this Friday would take in Washington as planned. Doubts had been voiced about it in view of growing tensions between the two countries.

Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the research group Foreign and Defence Policy Council in Moscow, told Interfax that the US rebuff is not likely to go beyond the diplomatic slap on the wrist. According to the analyst, the White House needs the Kremlin to protect the interests of US oil companies in the Russian Arctic.

One step the Americans might take do is broaden the Magnitsky List, which bans a number of Russian officials, guilty of human rights violations.

Sergei Karaganov, a political scientist, also noted that the United States need Russian help to settle some issues left over from the previous administration.

Meanwhile Edward Snowden became an official resident of Russia, although his exact location remains a secret.

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said that the former CIA consultant had not found a job, but that he still had some money. Kucherena also said that Snowden's father had applied for a visa to visit his son.

Whilst Snowden looks for a job, a Russian lawmaker announced a fundraiser to help him. Senator Ruslan Gattarov said that a bank account would be open shortly to receive donations in favour of the American computer specialist. Kucherena said that his client would "gratefully accept the help" of donors in Russia.

Glenn Greenwald, the US journalist based in Brazil who published information about Edward Snowden's leaked NSA files in the Guardian, said in a testimony Tuesday before the foreign relations committee of Brazil's Senate that he had in his possession up to 20,000 secret US government files obtained from Snowden.

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