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White House says Biden in call with Russia's Putin called for Navalny release

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny during their phone call this week, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday.

Biden pressed Putin on a number of issues, including alleged election interference in the 2020 election, Ukraine sovereignty, the massive SolarWind cyber hack, and Navalny.

On Thursday, Psaki had said Biden did not hold back in conveying his concerns about the actions of the Russian government during the call.

Earlier this week, a White House statement said the two leaders agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension of the New START arms control pact between the United States and Russia by Feb. 5, when the current deal expires.

The arms control treaty limits the United States and Russia to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads each.

The details about the phone call and what was discussed come at a time when Biden is adjusting U.S. policy in a more robust way toward Russia after predecessor Donald Trump refused to take on Putin directly.

Reporting By Steve Holland and Nandita Bose, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Heinrich

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