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VP Biden discussed Snowden with Ecuador's president, White House says

Carolyn Kaster / AP

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden discussed self-professed NSA leaker Edward Snowden with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, according to a senior White House official.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa about fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden on the phone, a senior White House official told NBC News on Saturday.


“They engaged in a broad conversation on the bilateral relationship. They did discuss Snowden,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor.

Rhodes did not disclose specific details about the phone conversation but said the U.S. government believes Snowden is still in Russia.

But Correa said that the U.S. had asked him not to grant asylum to Snowden, Reuters reported. "He communicated a very courteous request from the United States that we reject the (asylum) request" Correa said during his weekly TV broadcast.

Snowden, 30, is thought to be hiding out at a Moscow airport awaiting a ruling on his request for asylum from the government of Ecuador. Snowden flew to Russia from Hong Kong on June 23 but has not been seen since his arrival.

Russian officials told Reuters that he remains in a transit area at Sheremetyevo airport.

The call between Biden and Correa – the highest-level exchange reported between the U.S. and Ecuador since Snowden’s June 24 plea for asylum – came just two days after President Barack Obama said he was “not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker” and should not have to speak personally with the leaders of Russia and China to return Snowden to the U.S.

Obama pledged not to engage in “wheeling and dealing and trading and a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system here in the United States.”

Inside the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport are shops, restaurants and a hotel that could make the possibility of an extended stay for NSA leaker Edward Snowden not so bad. NBC's Ghazi Balkiz reports.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, claimed to have leaked details of two top-secret government data-gathering programs to the British newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post.

The publication of the leaked information triggered a global manhunt for Snowden, who has been charged with theft of government property and two violations of espionage statutes.

Ecuadorian officials have said they cannot begin reviewing Snowden's asylum request until he arrives in the country or one of Ecuador's embassies, according to The Associated Press.

NBC News' Shawna Thomas, Jim Maceda, F. Brinley Bruton and Matthew DeLuca contributed to this report.

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