June 18th, 2012
08:38 PM ET
LOS CABOS, MEXICO – Call it a case of appearances over substance. During brief remarks after President Obama’s bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday morning, the two leaders’ body language seemed to indicate the meeting had not gone well. They rarely looked at each other, never smiled and ended their meeting with a perfunctory handshake.
Reporters pounced on such a dramatic visual representation of what has recently been a somewhat troubled relationship. Russia has refused to go along with the United States and other nations in calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, and has blocked two U.N. Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the Syrian government.
At a briefing after the morning meeting, top White House aides warned reporters against reading into what one called the leaders’ “businesslike” meeting.
“Go back and look at the tape when he met with Obama the last time,” U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told reporters. “You'll see exactly the same body language. I have. That's just his style and I really would encourage you not to over-read how somebody is sitting as an indication of where the relationship is.”
May 14th, 2012
01:21 PM ET
Although the White House has said they have a "mutual commitment" to strengthening the relationship between the U.S and Russia, neither leader will visit the other on their turf in the summits that each country is hosting in the next several months.
The White House confirmed on Monday that President Obama will not be attending the APEC summit in Russia in November.
This after a phone conversation last week, where President Putin told Obama he wouldn't be able to attend the upcoming G8 Summit at Camp David because he was still forming his government and getting settled back into the role of Russian president. President Obama said he understood and looked forward to meeting with former President and current Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev during the summit.
The two leaders will eventually meet at the G20 summit in Mexico in June and have their first face-to-face meeting since Putin was elected president for the second time. They previously met in 2009 when Putin was the prime minister and Obama visited Moscow to sign a preliminary agreement for nuclear arms reduction along-side of then-President Medvedev.
But the White House says not to read anything into the scheduling no-shows.
"The fact of the matter is we have a comprehensive relationship with Russia that's built on working together in areas where we agree and that has borne significant successes, that approach, and then be very clear about where we disagree but not letting those disagreements undermine the overall relationship," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to New York City for the Barnard College commencement. "And that was true under President Medvedev when Vladimir Putin was prime minister, and it will continue to be true now that Mr. Putin has returned to the presidency and Mr. Medvedev is now prime minister."