Carney Plays Down Snowden: We’ve Got a ‘Lot of Fish to Fry’ with the Russians

Responding to a question about whether or not the United States would continue trying to bring NSA leaker Edward Snowden back to the U.S., White House press secretary Jay Carney denied that the National Security Agency leaker was the main issue in U.S.-Russia relations.

“[Snowden] is not the focus of our engagement with Russia, but it is not something that we’re dropping by any means,” Carney said. “It remains our position that there’s ample legal justification to return Mr. Snowden to the United States.”

Carney explained that ”there were a variety of challenges that led to the assessment that this was not the right time to have a summit,” referring to the announcement yesterday that the president won’t be holding bilateral talks with the Russian president while at the September G20 meeting in St. Petersburg.

“Obviously Mr. Snowden was a factor but he was far from the only factor,” Carney said. “Summits of leaders tend to be designed around making progress on significant issues — progress that has been achieved in the runup to a summit of that nature — and we had not seen that progress, sufficiently, on a range of issues to merit a summit.”

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