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Obama national security aides meet to discuss Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s national security team discussed the Ukraine crisis in a session at the White House on Saturday after Secretary of State John Kerry’s return from talks with his Russian counterpart in London.

Obama did not attend the meeting but was being briefed about it and other developments involving Ukraine, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.

Crimea’s pro-Russia parliament has scheduled a referendum on Sunday to decide whether the region should be annexed by Russia, an ominous development that Obama and his national security team have been trying to head off to no avail.

Obama said on Friday he still hopes a diplomatic solution can be found but that the United States and Europe are prepared to impose “consequences” on Russia if it does not loosen its grip on Crimea.

Kerry held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London on Friday but they reached no breakthrough in the Cold War-style dispute.

Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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