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Obama: No 'wheeling and dealing' over Snowden

DAKAR, Senegal -- President Barack Obama said Thursday he won't engage in "wheeling and dealing" or jeopardize cooperation on a broad range of issues with China or Russia in pursuit of leaker Edward Snowden.

At a news conference in Dakar the president said he hasn't spoken personally with Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin as the United States seeks Snowden's extradition. "I shouldn't have to," Obama said.

Obama also said he has no plans to use the military to intercept any flight with Snowden aboard. "No, I'm not going to be scrambling jets" to go after a "hacker," he said.

"In terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks," Obama said. Still, he added, there is concern about further revelations by Snowden. "We don't yet know what other documents he may try to dribble out there."

Obama's comments reflected U.S. efforts to turn from confrontation to diplomacy in seeking the return of Snowden, who Putin has said is in the transit zone of a Moscow airport.

The former employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. disclosed top-secret U.S. National Security Agency programs that collect phone and Internet data.

Snowden has sought asylum in Ecuador, which said Thursday that it's spurning U.S. trade benefits rather than have them used as "blackmail" to stop it from taking in the fugitive.

The case roiled international relations after Secretary of State John Kerry this week warned China and Russia of "consequences" for their actions. Echoing more conciliatory language that Kerry and other administration officials have used in the days that followed, Obama said Thursday that there have been "some useful conversations" between the United States and Russia and that "we'll continue to press them" to resolve the issue.


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