Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday rejected claims he has a poor personal relationship with President Barack Obama, praising his American counterpart as direct and “interesting” to work with.
Putin described Obama as a “concrete, business-like” partner, during an interview with state-run Channel One television ahead of the G20 summit Russia hosts in Saint Petersburg starting Thursday.
After Putin returned to the Kremlin for a third term last year, ties with the United States dramatically deteriorated over a host of issues including the Syrian crisis and human rights.
Tensions reached a peak after Moscow this summer gave asylum to the US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden prompting Obama to scrap his planned bilateral visit to Moscow ahead of the G20.
Putin admitted he was disappointed by his US counterpart’s decision but noted it was not a “catastrophe” and he understood that some of Moscow’s decisions did not sit well with the US administration.
The Kremlin earlier said a bilateral meeting or even less formal talks were not scheduled for Putin and Obama at the G20 summit but the Russian strongman said he was looking forward to having a discussion with Obama.
The previous meeting between the two leaders at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June was visibly frosty, with journalists scrutinising their body language and pointing to their apparent unease with each other.
Afterwards Obama admitted Putin often looked like “the bored kid in the back of the classroom.”
Putin said he was surprised to hear observers interpret their body language.