Obama hits back in Russia 'hot mike' row
27 March 2012, 11:09
Seoul - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday hit back at Republicans who
pounced after he was overheard telling Russia's leader he could be more
flexible over a missile defence row after November's election.
who is attending a nuclear summit in Seoul, complained that the
volatile political environment in the United States was not conducive to
in-depth consideration of delicate issues like defence and arms
"The only way I get this stuff done is if I'm consulting
with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I've got bipartisan support,"
Obama told reporters.
"Frankly, the current environment is not
conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations. I think the
stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good
evidence of that."
Republicans said Obama's comments in Seoul on
Monday to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev - picked up by a live
microphone - suggested that he planned to cave in to Moscow if
"This is my last
election. After my election I have more flexibility," Obama was heard to
tell the Russian leader, who promised to transmit the US president's
position to president-elect Vladimir Putin.
Obama's most likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, immediately sought to make political capital out of the comments.
Obama signalled that he's going to cave to Russia on missile defence,
but the American people have a right to know where else he plans to be
'flexible' in a second term," said Romney, who was campaigning in
In Washington, the White House explained it was
committed to implementing a missile defence shield in Europe despite
Russian objections, but that longstanding hurdles meant it would take
time to conclude a deal.
Washington and Nato argue that the
shield is meant to protect Western nations against missile attacks from
potential future nuclear powers such as Iran. Moscow fears the shield
could undermine its own nuclear capabilities.