Putin, Obama In “Substantial” Discussion

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that his meetings with Western leaders in France this week were positive and described talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama as “substantial”.

“I think the exchange of views was very positive,” Putin said in remarks broadcast by Russian television from France, where he attended ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day alongside US, British, French and German leaders.

He added that he spoke on two occasions with Obama, “in a rather substantial manner”.

Putin was also positive about Ukraine president-elect Petro Poroshenko.

“I cannot but welcome the position of Poroshenko on the necessity to end the bloodletting immediately in the east of Ukraine,” he said.

“I cannot say for sure how that can be implemented in practical terms, but overall it seemed to be to be the right approach,” he said.

“He has a plan, which — it’s probably better to ask him. He explained it quickly to me,” he added.

“Ukraine must demonstrate its good will. The repressive operation must be stopped.

“I hope that will happen, and if that happens, the conditions would be there for the development of our relations in other areas, including economic.”

Putin in particular raised the issue of Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine, saying that the two parties were close to a deal.

“No, I did not discuss gas prices with Poroshenko, but I know that Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart are close to a definitive deal,” he said.

“We do not exclude making a gesture to the Ukrainians, by lending them some support in the case that they repay their debt,” he said.

Ukraine’s third “gas war” with Russia in less than a decade erupted when Moscow nearly doubled the price it charges its neighbour for the fuel.

Kiev accused Moscow of “economic aggression” and refused to cover a bill that Russia puts at $5.17 billion (3.79 billion euros).

Russian gas transiting through Ukraine supplies about 15 percent of European needs.

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