No plans for Obama-Putin meeting in France

 

President Obama does not anticipate meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin while the pair are in France next month for a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the White House said Thursday.

"We do not anticipate the president will do any bilateral meetings with world leaders," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

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The gathering in Normandy will be the first time Obama and Putin will be in the same place since Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. 

The U.S. and European allies have subsequently imposed economic and travel sanctions against top political and economic allies of Putin, and threatened broad sectoral sanctions over Russian interference in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Earnest downplayed the significance of the world leaders appearing together at the event.

"If you consider that the Russian soldiers were fighting on the same side as American soldiers in that battle, it shouldn't be a remarkable surprise that the Russian president would attend," Earnest said.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed Putin's attendance to Russia Today on Thursday.

Before converging on Normandy, Obama is scheduled to travel to Warsaw to conduct bilateral meetings with Polish officials, who have signaled concerns over Russia's provocations. He'll also attend a G-7 summit in Brussels that was scheduled after the U.S. and other member countries moved to suspend Moscow's membership in the group and announced they would not attend a planned summit in Sochi, Russia.

Last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the participating countries would discuss "broad shared economic, security, and development issues" as well as the situation in Ukraine.