France and the United States have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pressure pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to agree a dialogue on reaching a ceasefire with Kiev.
Presidents Francois Hollande and Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Monday for 45 minutes and “called on President Putin to pressure the separatists so that they agree to a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities and to reinforce control over the Russian-Ukrainian border,” said a French presidency statement.
Obama and Hollande also called for a meeting “as quickly as possible with separatist elements, with the view to reaching a bilateral ceasefire,” it said. “A durable solution to the crisis in Ukraine can only be a political one.”
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According to a White House account of the call, Obama and Hollande also agreed that in the absence of such a deal, the Ukrainian government, which has launched an offencive against the rebels, has a “responsibility to maintain public order in the country and to protect the population”.