January 13, 2016 / 7:19 PM / 4 years ago

Obama discusses Syria, Ukraine with Russia's Putin: White House

U.S. President Barack Obama departs for travel to Nebraska from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, emphasized the need to work toward a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine and address the conflict in Syria, the White House said.

Obama told Putin that a key next step in resolving the Ukrainian crisis was for all sides to agree on the modalities of local elections in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

The two leaders also “noted the necessity of taking steps to foster productive discussions between representatives of the Syrian opposition and regime under United Nations auspices, principally by reducing violence and addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian people,” the statement said.

They also discussed the “importance of a strong and united international response” to North Korea’s recent nuclear test.

Separately, the Kremlin said in a statement that Obama and Putin expressed support during their phone call for an easing of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by David Alexander and Sandra Maler

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