"I wouldn't call it icy," Obama said in an interview with NBC host
Bob Costas taped on Thursday as part of coverage of the Winter
Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"He does have a public style where he likes to sit back and look a
little bored during the course of joint interviews. My sense is
that's part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look
like the tough guy," Obama said in the interview, set to air on
"U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a
while," Obama said in excerpts of the interview released by NBC.
Obama canceled a visit to Moscow to visit Putin last year after
Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the former spy contractor
whose leaks about U.S. surveillance operations rocked U.S. relations
with allies and hurt Obama's popularity at home.
The leaders have also disagreed over how to respond to Syria's civil
war. In a joint appearance after discussing Syria at a meeting in
June, Obama and Putin both looked like they would rather have been
On Thursday, a recording of a private conversation between U.S.
diplomats discussing protests in Ukraine was posted on YouTube,
embarrassing the United States.
"I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by
the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia's
role," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
[to top of second column]
But Obama said the two leaders focus on issues of "mutual concern"
where they can work together.
"The truth of the matter is that when we are in meetings there are a
lot of exchanges, there's a surprising amount of humor, and a lot of
give and take. He's always treated me with the utmost respect,"
Obama said U.S. and Russian law enforcement, military and
intelligence officials have been in "constant communications" to
ensure safety at the Sochi Olympics.
"I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in
preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues.
They have put a lot of resources into it," he said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Bernard Orr)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.