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Obama, Hollande call on Putin to pressure Ukraine rebels on talks

France and the United States on Monday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pressure pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to agree a dialogue on reaching a ceasefire with Kiev.

PARIS: France and the United States on Monday 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 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."

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 offensive against the rebels, has a "responsibility to maintain public order in the country and to protect the population".

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