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article imagePutin seeks diplomatic end to Ukraine crisis: U.S.

By AFP     Mar 28, 2014 in World

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his American counterpart Barack Obama on Friday to discuss a U.S. proposal on resolving the crisis in Ukraine, the White House said.

"President Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing" to the proposal presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in The Hague this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The proposal had been drawn up after consultations with Ukraine and the European Union, and Putin and Obama agreed "Kerry and Lavrov would meet to discuss next steps".

Earlier Obama told Russia in a CBS interview to pull troops back from Ukraine and stop escalating a crisis that has already redrawn the map of Europe and reopened the Cold War's East-West split.

Obama's blunt message added further urgency to a standoff that has forced NATO to reinforce positions along Russia's frontier in a bid to calm anxious ex-Soviet satellite nations about the Kremlin's new expansionist mood.

The American leader, who is visiting Saudi Arabia, told Putin "that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path" to resolve the crisis, which has seen Moscow absorb Ukraine's southern peninsula of Crimea and mass tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine's eastern border.

But Carney said Obama made clear to Putin "that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty".

Obama also "noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections".

And he urged Russia "to support this process and avoid further provocations".

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