Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama have ordered the chiefs of their respective security agencies to find a way out of the impasse caused by fugitive leaker Edward Snowden`s stay in a Moscow airport, a senior official said on Monday.
"Of course (Putin and Obama) don`t have a solution now that would work for both sides, so they have ordered the FSB director (Alexander) Bortnikov and FBI director Robert Mueller to keep in constant contact and find solutions," the head of Russia`s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said in an interview with state television channel Rossiya 24.
"I have to point out however that the task ahead of them is not easy, because they have to find a solution within the framework of international legal norms, and today one cannot say that such norms exist, and that there is a ready solution," Patrushev added in an excerpt of the interview aired ahead of the full version to be shown on the channel later today.
The high-ranking official`s statement came as the ex-NSA contractor`s presumed stay in the Sheremetyevo airport`s transit zone went into the ninth day. He had arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 for a layover on his way to Latin America, possibly Ecuador, in a bid to escape extradition to the United States.
On Tuesday, Putin refused to immediately hand over Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges, to the United States.
"I would personally prefer not to engage in such issues," Putin said in a press conference in Finland after declaring that the 30-year-old leaker was in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport.
"Mr. (FBI director Robert) Mueller and Mr. (FBI director Alexander) Bortnikov should devote themselves to resolving this question," Putin added. "I hope this won`t reflect on the business character of our relations with the United States, and that our partners will understand this."
The United States has requested cooperation from Russia in its efforts to bring back Snowden, who has leaked secret details of vast US telephone and Web surveillance programmes to media outlets after leaving his job.