WASHINGTON -- US President Barack Obama on Thursday rejected the idea of his having an "icy" relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I wouldn't call it icy," Obama told NBC in an interview taped on Thursday. The interview was set to air Friday night, but excerpts were released by the TV network.
"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," Obama said, adding he has always been treated by Putin "with the utmost respect."
Washington-Moscow relations hit a new low last year over sharp disagreements over Syria, missile defense, human rights and the fate of Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed the agency's mass domestic and global spying program. Obama canceled a summit with Putin in Moscow in early September.
On Putin's stern demeanor, Obama said: "My sense is that's part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy."