Obama urges Putin to pursue diplomatic solution

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pursue a diplomatic solution to Ukraine’s continued unrest during an hour-long phone call Thursday.

According to the White House, Obama’s plan calls on his Russian counterpart to hold direct talks with the Ukrainian government with international support, and pull troops back to their bases.

The U.S. president also called for international monitors in Ukraine to ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected, and international support for Ukraine’s upcoming elections in May.

Russian forces invaded the Crimean Peninsula last week, and have taken up positions around Ukrainian military facilities.

Obama directly told Putin that his actions are “in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Thursday’s call is the first between the two leaders since Saturday’s 90-minute discussion.

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