Residents have mixed reaction to cancellation of meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

August 08, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • FILE - This June 17, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. It was reported Wednesday Aug. 7. 2013, President Barack Obama is canceling plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next month  a rare diplomatic snub.The move is retribution for Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, who is accused of leaking highly secretive details about National Security Agency surveillance programs. It also reflects growing U.S. frustration with Russia on several issues, including missile defense and human rights.
By Evan Vucci / AP

President Barack Obama’s cancellation of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month drew mixed reaction from area residents Thursday.

Sissy Green of Hagerstown said she believed Obama should not have canceled a scheduled summit with Putin regardless of the differences they may have had recently.

“Negotiating is important, and he could’ve dealt with their issues anyway,” said Green, 58. “He had that commitment, and that’s important, so he should’ve just dealt with it.”

On the other hand, Christian Ramirez of Hagerstown said he supports the president’s decision, citing Russia’s agreement to give temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked top-secret U.S. government information to the press.

“We have to show Russia that we have to stand up for our country,” said Ramirez, 41. “If the situation would’ve been reversed, we would have returned (him) to Russia out of respect and to try to establish a relationship.”

The president canceled a meeting with Putin in Moscow that was scheduled ahead of next month’s Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to published reports.

Besides the Snowden situation, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney cited a number of reasons for the cancellation of the meeting, including a “lack of progress” with Russia on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, and human rights.

Of the eight area residents who spoke with The Herald-Mail Thursday, four supported   Obama’s decision and four were against it.

Lois Myers of Hagerstown pointed to Snowden as the main reason she supports the decision.

“He was a traitor to our country, and we have no use for him,” she said. “They can’t be our friend.”

Myers said the other reasons cited by Carney are also valid considerations to cancel the summit.

David Ferguson of Hagerstown said that he also thinks Snowden is the main reason the meeting was canceled. Although Ferguson said that he understands why people might consider Snowden a hero, he still supports Obama’s decision, because Putin is doing nothing to help the United States.

“I want to know when my government is spying on me, too, but I also think Snowden needs to come back and face his charges,” said Ferguson, 50. “If they did have the meeting, it would probably only be about that subject, and they probably wouldn’t get anything else accomplished.”

Carolyn Blitz of Hagerstown said that Obama should attend the meeting, because, regardless of their issues, it does not make a difference in the United States whether  he attends the meeting.

“It makes a difference with the Russian people,” she said. “It doesn’t hurt to talk, and we should be on good terms with all countries.”

John Munday, 61, said that he thinks it is important for Obama to attend the meeting for the sake of international relations, even though he understands there are differences.

“He should still attend that,” he said. “Hopefully, we could get things ironed out a little bit worldwide as far as getting along with other countries.”

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