Putin tells Obama `direct talks` in Ukraine should be priority: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama discussed today ways to put an end to the Ukraine crisis, with the Kremlin chief stressing the importance of a ceasefire and talks between the warring sides.

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 24, 2014, 02:03 AM IST

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama discussed today ways to put an end to the Ukraine crisis, with the Kremlin chief stressing the importance of a ceasefire and talks between the warring sides.

"Vladimir Putin stressed that a genuine cessation of fighting and the start of direct talks between the warring sides would have the highest priority for the normalisation of the situation in the southeastern regions," the Kremlin said in a statement following the phone talks.

"The importance of (finding) an immediate solution to humanitarian issues including urgent assistance to the war-affected civilians was also stressed," said the statement, noting that the two leaders also discussed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko`s peace plan announced on Friday.
The two spoke as a top Ukrainian separatist, Alexander Borodai, said rebels were ready to temporarily halt fire.

Separately, Putin and Obama expressed "serious concern" over the advances of jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq.

"The Russian leader expressed support for Baghdad`s efforts in the fight against Islamists and bringing about peace and stability in the country," said the Kremlin statement, adding the two leaders also discussed Syria and Iran`s nuclear programme.

Earlier this month, Obama and Putin held informal talks on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France.
It was their first meeting since the start of the Ukraine crisis and first face-to-face encounter since the G20 summit in St Petersburg last year.