Russian President Vladimir Putin told the U.S. today he won’t attend the Group of Eight summit being hosted this month by President Barack Obama and is sending Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instead, the White House said.
Putin told Obama in a telephone call that he needed to make cabinet decisions concerning the new Russian government and would miss the May 18-19 gathering, the White House statement said. Putin and Obama will hold a separate meeting at the Group of 20 summit next month in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Obama and Putin discussed “the concrete achievements of the last three years and expressed their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation on the basis of mutual strategic interests,” according to the statement.
The G-8 meeting at the presidential retreat in rural Maryland would have been Putin’s first foreign trip since his inauguration for a third six-year term as president on May 7.
Putin has been critical of the U.S. on economic and security matters as he campaigned for election in a vote that opposition parties said was rigged in his favor. He nominated Medvedev, his immediate predecessor in the presidency, as prime minister.
While the administration vowed to work with the newly elected Russian government, the U.S. is “troubled” by reports of violence in Moscow in the wake of the election, Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, said yesterday.
The White House statement said Obama and Putin will continue to work on issues such as nuclear security and non- proliferation that are part of the Obama administration’s so- called “re-set” of relations between the two nations.
Putin, who first rose to power in 1999, has sought to restore Russian prestige after the collapse of communism in 1991.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org