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Trump Speaks with Ukrainian and Italian Leaders

  • VOA News

From left, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The Trump administration says U.S. President Donald Trump had a “very good call” Saturday with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, addressing the conflict with Russia among other things.

In a statement, the White House quoted Trump as saying “we will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border.”

The White House said the two leaders also discussed the potential for a meeting soon.

Surge in fighting

Trump’s first conversation with Poroshenko comes amid a surge in fighting in the eastern Ukraine war zone between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed insurgents. Dozens of people have been killed in the past week as the violence escalated to levels not seen since 2015.

Poroshenko has argued that the outburst is a reason to continue Western sanctions imposed on Moscow for its actions against Ukraine. Trump’s repeated promises to strengthen relations with Russia have stoked Ukrainian concerns the U.S. could drop some sanctions.

Trump, who is spending the weekend at his beach estate in Florida, also spoke by phone Saturday with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The two leaders discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation across a range of shared interests, including security and counterterrorism, according to a statement from the White House.

G-7 meeting

Also discussed were Libya, the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, as well as Italy’s priorities and the upcoming G-7 meeting in Italy, the statement said.

On Friday, Gentiloni participated in a European Union summit in Malta, where he and the other EU leaders promised to remain defiant of Trump, whose criticism of the union is thought by some to threaten the strength of the trans-Atlantic alliance. They discussed ideas that will be included in a declaration on the EU’s future when they observe its 60th anniversary in March in Rome.

Gentiloni said Friday he saw a “great opportunity” for the EU if the Trump administration focuses primarily on domestic issues, giving Europe the chance to establish the “No. 1 trade superpower in the world.”

In their phone call Saturday, Trump reiterated the U.S. commitment to NATO and emphasized the importance of all NATO allies sharing the monetary burden of defense spending. Trump also agreed to attend the G-7 Summit in Taormina, Italy, in May, according to the White House.

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