French, US leaders press for Ukraine cease-fire

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Associated Press

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 8 at 5:04 AM

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama are pressing for a meeting "as quickly as possible" to negotiate a bilateral cease-fire in Ukraine, Hollande's office said Monday.

Hollande's office said in a statement that the two leaders spoke by phone Monday and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to press separatists to accept dialogue with Ukrainian authorities.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko promised to start talks on a new cease-fire last week. A contact group for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe met in Kiev on Sunday to discuss the situation in Donetsk, but no representatives from the rebels attended and no breakthroughs were announced.

Hollande and Obama agreed that a "durable solution ... can only be political," the statement said.

The White House said Obama told Hollande that in the absence of meaningful efforts by pro-Russian separatists to pursue peace talks or stick to a ceasefire, the U.S. respects Ukraine's responsibility to maintain order and protect the country's population.

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