Obama to meet with Putin 15 months after ‘flexibility’ comment

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

President Barack Obama is slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week, some 15 months after he privately promised more diplomatic “flexibility” after his election.

The June 17 meeting will take place at the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland, beside a lake, Loch Erne.

Obama’s promise was offered to Putin’s deputy and predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, during a March 2012 summit in Seoul, South Korea. It was transmitted to journalists by a nearby hot microphone.

“This is my last election. … After my election I have more flexibility” in talks about missile-defense programs, Obama said told Medvedev.

“I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev responded.

Medvedev replaced Putin in 2008, but was widely seen as a figurehead.

In May, Putin took the presidency again.

Russian leaders have long complained about the existence of U.S. nuclear forces and missile-defense programs. They stepped up their diplomatic objections when President Ronald Reagan pushed his Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983.

Under Russian pressure, Obama canceled plans to deploy a long-range anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, and has since signaled he wants a further reduction in U.S. nuclear forces.

For decades, Russia has deployed large numbers of nuclear-tipped missiles, as well as anti-missile missiles around Moscow.

Follow Neil on Twitter