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Lawmaker says Russia 'interested in Snowden leaving our territory,' as US Ambassador Michael McFaul meets top Putin aide to talk security, trade.
Russian and US officials met on Friday in an attempt to salvage diplomatic ties between the two countries, which remain strained over a range of issues including Syria and the Snowden affair.
Michael A. McFaul, the United States ambassador to Russia, met a top aide to President Vladimir Putin to discuss Snowden, Syria, missile defense and other issues.
The US Embassy in Russia did not divulge further details about the meeting with Yuri Ushakov.
Edward Snowden — the former contractor responsible for leaking information about the US National Security Agency's surveillance programs to the media — slipped out of Moscow's airport on Thursday after obtaining a temporary visa, a move that further angered the White House.
“@McFaul and Ushakov discussed nuclear arms reductions, missile defense, Syria, trade, human rights, and the new status of Mr. Snowden,” said a translated version of a tweet from the US Embassy in Russia.
.@McFaul and Ushakov discussed nuclear arms reductions, missile defense, Syria, trade, human rights, and the new status of Mr. Snowden
— Посольство США в РФ (@USEmbRu) August 2, 2013
However, a Russian lawmaker — perhaps hoping to placate the United States on the Snowden issue — said Friday that Snowden might not remain in the country.
“The Russian side is interested in Snowden leaving our territory, and this whole story is not a reason for worsening relations with the United States,” said Igor Morozov, chairman of Russia’s foreign affairs committee, according to The New York Times.
"This temporary decision leaves the Russian side a certain space for maneuvering, including the possibility to organize the movement of Snowden to another country."
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As for Snowden himself, his Russian lawyer said he’s now safely with friends and contacts in Russia.
Yet, he’s exhausted and misses his American girlfriend, USA Today reported.
“Snowden is in a safe place,” Anatoly Kucherena told Russian media.
“He will decide for himself how to live his life from now on. He has friends with him, including Americans with whom he made contact via his friends from the United States when he was still in the [airport] transit zone.”
Snowden is also traveling with a WikiLeaks representative who helped him navigate his flight from Hong Kong to Moscow in late June after he leaked confidential US security documents to the press.
“We will continue to defend Mr. Snowden and urge the United States government to respect its constitution and international law,” a statement on Wikileaks.org said.
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