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    US President Barack Obama (R) listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin

    Touching Base: Putin and Obama Talk Ukraine, Iran Nuke Deal, Syrian Crisis

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama held a telephone conversation Thursday evening discussing the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements on Ukraine, countering the self-proclaimed Islamic State terror group, the current situation in Syria and the ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations.

    BAKAN (Sputnik) – According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama touched upon a number of issues in their phone conversation.

    "The heads of state discussed the Ukrainian crisis, in particular the implementation of the Minsk agreements… in this context the presidents agreed that in the near future US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin will meet to discuss the implementation of these agreements."

    The Minsk deal was reached in February after talks between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in the Belarusian capital. The agreement was signed by members of the Contact Group on Ukraine, comprising representatives from Kiev, the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR), Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

    The peace deal stipulates a ceasefire between DPR and LPR independence fighters and Kiev forces, which launched a military operation in Ukraine’s southeast in April 2014 in response to local residents’ refusal to recognize the new coup-installed government.

    The Minsk agreement also contains provisions on an all-for-all prisoner exchange between the conflicting sides, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact and the decentralization of power in Ukraine.

    The OSCE, which is tasked with monitoring the situation in Ukraine, has reported ceasefire violations in the country's southeastern regions despite the Minsk truce.

    Obama: Russia Needs to Fulfill Minsk Agreements

    Obama urged Moscow to fulfill the Minsk agreements during the conversation, the White House said in a release.

    “President Obama reiterated the need for Russia to fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements, including the removal of all Russian troops and equipment from Ukrainian territory.”

    Leaders Focus on Fight Against Terrorism, Islamic State Threat

    According to spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin and Obama also raised the issue of terrorism during the conversation, including the threat of the Islamic State extremist organization in Syria.

    “There was a detailed exchange of opinions on the situation in Syria… particular attention was paid to a range of issues pertaining to the fight against terrorism, especially the spread of the influence of Islamic State in the Middle East.”

    According to Peskov, Putin and Obama agreed that US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would hold a meeting to discuss terrorism-related issues in the near future.

    Iran Nuclear Issue as P5+1 Talks With Tehran Continue

    The leaders also touched upon the ongoing talks between the P5+1 group and Iran that are being conducted with the aim of ensuring the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear activities, Peskov added.

    The White House said in a Thursday statement that Obama and Putin stressed the importance of unity among P5+1 mediators, which include Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.

    "The leaders…underscored the importance of continued P5+1 unity in ongoing negotiations to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

    The P5+1 group and Iranian officials are meeting in Vienna ahead of the June 30 deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.

    According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, a number of stumbling blocks remain in the talks and negotiators have so far been unable to narrow the disputed issues down to just a few that could be discussed at the ministerial level.

    In April, Iran and the P5+1 agreed on a framework for a deal ensuring the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear activities. The agreement, reached in the the Swiss city of Lausanne, stipulates that Iran cut back uranium enrichment activities and decrease the number of centrifuges in exchange for Western sanctions relief.

    The West has long suspected that Iran is developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian program. Tehran has stressed that its nuclear activities are aimed at meeting Iran’s growing energy needs.

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    talks, Iran's Nuclear Program, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, Iran, Syria, United States, Russia
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