The White House on Thursday dismissed the suggestion that the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin at next week’s high-level Group of Eight meetings was a snub.

“It was not a surprise, and does not at all feel like a snub,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

G8 leaders representing the world’s strongest economies are to meet May 18-19 at President Barack Obama’s mountain retreat outside Washington for their annual summit. Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, who was President until Mr. Putin took over, will represent Russia instead.

Bilateral tensions have risen in recent times over U.S./NATO plans for a missile defence system in Eastern Europe. Moscow also has charged that the United States helped encourage anti-Putin demonstrations during the election campaign.

Mr. Carney noted that Mr. Putin had just been sworn into office and was busy forming a government, “and the President absolutely understands that.”

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