Obama jibes at Putin, says hopes gay athletes win medals in Sochi

US president holds press conference, discusses Russian-American tensions, NSA surveillance leak. Putin like 'bored schoolboy in back of classroom,' Obama jokes

US President Barack Obama said on Friday that the United States must reassess its relationship with Russia after the country has taken a series of actions that contradict US interests.


"Frankly, on a whole range of issues where we think we can make some progress Russia has not moved," Obama said at a news conference in the White House, acknowledging tension between the two countries.


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Obama poked some fun at Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he looks like 'bored schoolboy in the back of the classroom,' but added that he does not have a "bad personal relationship" with him, although he said US-Russian relations have slowed since Putin succeeded Dmitry Medvedev.


Obama, Putin in joint press conference last June (Photo: Reuters)


"I think there's always been some tension in the US-Russian relationship after the fall of the Soviet Union," he said.


Responding to recent calls to boycott the Winter Olympics to held in Sochi, Russia against the background of a wave of anti-gay legislation in the Russian parliament, Obama said that though he is offended by said legislation, he does not think it is appropriate to boycott the competitions.


"One of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there," Obama said.


The president recently canceled a Moscow visit with Putin around the time of the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg this fall. Obama will still attend the G-20 meeting.


Obama denied that the cancellation of the visit was due only to the asylum Russia has given the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked information regarding the US mass surveillance projects.


Regarding the exposure of the NSA surveillance, the president said the United States "can and must be more transparent" about surveillance programs and promised to work with Congress to put constraints on government spying.


He added that he is comfortable that government surveillance programs are not being abused.



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פרסום ראשון: 08.10.13, 00:00
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