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On sidelines of D-Day observance, Ukraine crisis looms large

On the sidelines of the D-Day 70th anniversary observances Friday, the crisis in Ukraine loomed large. U.S. President Barack Obama and Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko both held short, informal meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
By JC Finley   |   June 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM   |   Comments

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PARIS, June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke briefly Friday on the sidelines of a lunch commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Their brief, informal meeting was unscheduled but highly anticipated.

President Francois Hollande, host to the D-Day observances, appears to have taken great care to keep Obama and Putin apart as diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Russia have mounted over the crisis in Ukraine.

Their conversation lasted 10 to 15 minutes, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, but offered no details about what the two leaders discussed.

A day earlier, Obama acknowledged that he would likely talk to Putin in France, and that if the opportunity presented itself, he would reiterate America's position that Russia must recognize Ukraine's newly-elected president, stop the flow of weapons into Ukraine, and withdraw its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Putin "has a chance to get back into a lane of international law," Obama asserted.

Putin told French television station TF1 that he would welcome continuing dialogue with Obama.

A meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko also occurred Friday, with Kremlin aide Dmitry Peskov saying, "During the brief conversation, both Putin and Poroshenko called for a quick end to the bloodshed in south-eastern Ukraine, and also to military activity by both sides."

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