Administration

Obama: Putin looks like ‘bored kid in the back of the classroom’

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President Obama on Friday insisted he doesn’t have a bad personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Obama, who cancelled a meeting next month in Moscow with Putin over Russia’s granting of asylum to National Security Agency Leaker Edward Snowden, said the two get a
bad rap because of Putin’s body language. 

{mosads}“I know the press likes to focus on body language, and he’s
got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid at the back of the
classroom,” Obama said at a news conference on Friday. “The truth is when we’re
in conversations together, they are oftentimes very productive.”

Relations between Russia and the United States have
plummeted in recent weeks over the handling of Snowden, as well as differences over the conflict in Syria.

Obama said that the Snowden episode was the latest in a
series of emerging conflicts in recent months, such as the conflict in Syria
and human rights issues. He said those issues also played into the cancellation
of the summit, not just Snowden receiving asylum.

Obama said there’s been more rhetoric on the Russian side
that was anti-American since Putin took office, and that he’s “encouraged Mr. Putin
to think forward as opposed to backwards on those issues, with mixed success.”

“There are just going to be some differences, and we’re not
going to be able to completely disguise them, and that’s OK,” Obama said.

But the president insisted that the differences don’t stem
from a personal conflict between the two leaders, an issue that’s frequently raised
when Obama and Putin have emerged from previous bilateral meetings looking unhappy
to be next to the other.

“When we have conversations, they‘re candid; they’re blunt. Oftentimes,
they’re constructive,” Obama said Friday.

Obama did not indicate he was planning any more retaliatory
measures against Russia, and said that the United States would not boycott the 2014
Olympics in Russia.

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