Snowden hopes to leave Moscow airport on Wednesday

Edward Snowden's bid for temporary asylum in Russia may take up to three months to process. (AFP)

Edward Snowden's bid for temporary asylum in Russia may take up to three months to process. (AFP)

Anatoly Kucherena, who helped the American file his bid for temporary asylum in Russia on July 16, said on Monday that former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden believed it would be unsafe to try to travel to Latin America soon because of Washington's efforts to return him to the US to face espionage charges.

"He should get this certificate [allowing him to leave the airport] shortly," he said.

Snowden's bid for temporary asylum in Russia may take up to three months to process, but he can pass through customs based on the initial response to his request, Kucherena added.

Snowden, whose presence at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since June 23 has strained US-Russian relations, has not ruled out seeking Russian citizenship, Kucherena said. Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have all said they would grant him political asylum, but none is reachable by direct commercial flight from Moscow.

Meanwhile, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, who broke China out of diplomatic isolation in the post-Tiananmen era, has made a rare return to public life, saying that his country should not fear disputes with Washington and that honest dialogue is needed.

Ties between the world's two largest economies have been strained of late by US accusations of Chinese hacking attacks, and China's anger at revelations by Snowden of US electronic surveillance activities in China and Hong Kong.

Meeting in Shanghai with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Jiang recalled the challenging time following the June 4 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"After 1989, Sino-US relations certainly went through a difficult period and then with the hard work of both sides, myself and [former US] president Clinton were able to visit each other," Jiang said during the meeting on July 3, according to a statement issued on Monday by China's foreign ministry.

"My personal understanding is that although at present there are certain contradictions which exist between China and the United States, as long as our leaders have a frank exchange of views many problems can be resolved."

Jiang visited the United States in 1993, four years after Tiananmen, despite Washington's anger at the crackdown.

Under Jiang, China weathered the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s, joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and won the right to stage the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Jiang said he was pleased that current Chinese leader Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama had had such an honest exchange of opinions when they met in California last month, where cyber-security was a focus of the talks.

"This is extremely beneficial to developing bilateral relations," said Jiang, who retired in 2002 and handed the reins to Hu Jintao in China's first bloodless leadership transition since the 1949 revolution. – Reuters


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