'Look, give us Snowden' - this Friday's top US-Russia talks revealed
Obama's highest lieutenants to meet Putin's top brass in military co-op confab
America will hold high-level talks on political and military teamwork with Russia this Friday - despite the latter country's offer of temporary asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel are due to meet their Russian counterparts in Washington to discuss "strategic stability, political-military cooperation and regional issues", including Syria and Iran's nuclear programme, the state department said.
Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Kerry and Hagel will press Russia to return Snowden to the US at the meeting, despite the asylum offer.
"We would like to see Mr Snowden returned to the United States. I don’t know technically what that requires, but we know they have the capability to do that," she said.
"We have raised Mr Snowden with Russian officials many times in recent weeks and expect to do so again," she added.
Snowden - the ex-CIA techie who blew the lid off the NSA's global internet snooping - was granted asylum in Russia at the start of the month and was allowed to leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he had been holed up for weeks after going on the run from Hong Kong. His location is being kept secret for his safety, and he now has a year-long visa from Russia.
US President Obama's administration said it was "extremely disappointed" that the former Soviet state had decided to let Snowden stay, and said it undermined the countries' record of "law enforcement cooperation".
"Mr Snowden is not a whistleblower. He is accused of leaking classified information and has been charged with three felony counts, and he should be returned to the United States as soon as possible where he will be accorded full due process and protections," press secretary Jay Carney said.
"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and in private to have Mr Snowden expelled to the United States to face the charges against him."
Snowden, previously described as an unwanted gift by Russian President Putin, had sought asylum in various countries to avoid extradition to the US, including Ecuador and Venezuela.
He is being helped by secrets site Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange is languishing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid deportation to Sweden, where he's wanted for questioning in a sexual assault case. Assange insists that Sweden is a stepping stone in an attempt to have him extradited to the US to face charges related to classified documents published by his site. ®