Obama cancels meeting with Russian president amid tensions regarding Snowden and human rights

US president Barack Obama has cancelled meetings with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow amid tensions over former National Security Agency IT contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The meetings had been scheduled for September, but it now appears they will not be going ahead. A Kremlin aide said Obama's decision was "disappointing".

Russia has granted temporary asylum to Snowden, despite the US calling for the country to send him back. There are other tensions brewing between the two nations over issues concerning defence and human rights.

Speaking on NBC’s The Tonight Show, Obama said “there have been times where they slip back into Cold War thinking and a Cold War mentality”. He said he would be going to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, but didn't clarify whether or not he would speak to Putin there.

Obama told the show’s host Jay Leno that the US did not have a domestic spying programme.

What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat. That information is useful.

He added that he had these programmes reviewed when he took over to make sure there was oversight by the courts and Congress to ensure “there is no spying on Americans”.

Obama also criticised a new Russian law cracking down on gay rights activism, which will be enforced when Moscow hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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