State Dept.: US-Russia going ahead with talks, will discuss Snowden

The State Department on Tuesday confirmed that top U.S. and Russian officials will meet Friday in Washington to discuss the fate of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and prospects for a planned bilateral summit next month.

Officials on the American side led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will press their Russian counterparts to turn over Snowden, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

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President Obama is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin early next month in Moscow. But that meeting could be jeopardized by Russia's decision to grant Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges in the U.S., temporary asylum.

Snowden admitted to leaking classified information detailing U.S. counterterrorism surveillance programs. 

"We would like to see Mr. Snowden returned to the United States," Psaki said. When asked if the U.S. wants Snowden's temporary asylum revoked and him flown to the U.S., she said, "If that is what it requires, we would like him to be."

The Russian delegation will be led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

"We expect a very intensive discussion, all the more so because there are quite a few sharp, controversial and difficult questions," Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, told The New York Times on Tuesday.

But Snowden is not the only issue on the table. Psaki said Russia's position on Syria would also come up, and said the U.S. would push for a diplomatic solution to that country's bloody civil war. Other issues likely to arise include implementation of the New START treaty, Afghanistan and efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.