Putin to Skip G8
Published: May 10, 2012 (Issue # 1707)
President Vladimir Putin will not participate in the G8 summit to be held at Camp David later this month, choosing to send newly-minted Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in his stead.
Putin gave Obama the news by telephone, the White House said in a statement, RIA-Novosti reported.
"Noting his responsibilities to finalize cabinet appointments in the new Russian government, President Putin expressed his regret that he would be unable to attend the G-8 Summit at Camp David on May 18-19," the statement said.
It said Obama "expressed his understanding of President Putin's decision" and "welcomed" Medvedev's participation.
During the telephone call, the two leaders also affirmed a commitment to continue the "reset" in relations and continue high-level dialogue on key issues.
The White House said Putin and Obama would meet next month at the G20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico.
The decision comes after an election campaign season in which Putin frequently used anti-American rhetoric, calling into question how the new presidential administration will proceed.
The G8 summit was earlier moved to Camp David from Chicago, a move seen as a goodwill gesture made to Putin so that he would not need to ostentatiously leave the city to avoid attending the NATO conference that was to follow. White House officials denied the speculation.
"The president supported moving the summit to Camp David because he preferred having a more relaxed atmosphere to facilitate a candid discussion among world leaders," Benjamin Rhodes, the director for strategic communications at the National Security Council said.