U.S. President Barack Obama will not attend a summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Council (APEC) in Vladivostok later this year in what looks like a tit-for-tat for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip a Group of Eight summit in the U.S.
Mr Obama has notified the Kremlin that he will miss the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in September because of his re-election campaign engagements, an unidentified Russian diplomat told the Vedomosti daily.
The Kremlin on Wednesday said that Mr Putin had decided to pull out of the G8 summit in Camp David next week because he would be busy finalising appointments to his new cabinet.
The absence of the U.S. President from the first ever APEC summit held in Russia will come as a blow to Moscow, which has touted the meeting as symbolising Russia’s new engagement of Asia. The Kremlin has been pouring billions of dollars into building and renovating the infrastructure in Vladivostok hoping to attract foreign investment into the Far East.
Putin’s excuse in missing the G8 looks less convincing that Mr Obama’s reasons for not going to Vladivostok. Formation of the government in Russia is the responsibility of the Prime Minister, not the President. The APEC summit will be held on September 1 to 8, but Mr Obama plans to attend the Democratic Party national convention, which opens on September 3 and will formally nominate him as its candidate on September 6.
Some experts said Mr Putin wants to make his first visit outside the former Soviet Union to China for a Shanghai Cooperation summit on June 6 to emphasise his new focus on Asia.