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Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin seek ‘diplomatic path’ in Ukraine

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The United States (US) President Joe Biden held talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin for the second time this month, in a bid to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine.

The two leaders spoke by phone on Thursday.

They will discuss forthcoming security talks between the countries and the situation in Europe, a White House official said.

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Russia, which has built up forces on the border with Ukraine, denies planning to invade the country.

It says its troops are there for exercises, and that Russia is entitled to move its troops freely on its soil.

The US consulted European leaders ahead of the call to co-ordinate a common response to the issue, a White House statement said.

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Ukrainian security officials say more than 100,000 Russian troops have been sent close to their shared border, and the US has threatened Putin with sanctions “like none he’s ever seen” if Ukraine comes under attack.

Biden will offer his Russian counterpart a “diplomatic path” but remains “gravely” concerned by the Russian troop build-up on the border, a US official told AFP news agency.

Biden is expected to tell Putin that the US is prepared to respond if Russia advances with “a further invasion of Ukraine”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken had “reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders”. —BBC

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