- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2014

Saying he’s always had a “businesslike” relationship with Vladimir Putin, President Obama on Thursday opened the door to meet with the Russian leader when the two men visit Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin are not scheduled to meet face to face in Normandy, but the Russian president will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.

While no formal sit-down has been planned, Mr. Obama indicated he’s also willing to talk to Mr. Putin and is prepared to tell him to stop meddling in Ukraine’s affairs.

“I have no doubt I’ll see Mr. Putin. He and I have always had a businesslike relationship, and it is entirely appropriate he is there to commemorate D-Day given the extraordinary sacrificed that were made by the people of the Soviet Union during World War II,” the president said at a press conference in Brussels alongside Mr. Cameron. “And should we have the opportunity to talk, I will be repeating the same message I’ve been delivering to him throughout this crisis … Ultimately it is up to the people of Ukraine to make their own decisions.”

Regarding his own meeting with Mr. Putin later Thursday, Mr. Cameron said maintaining an open dialogue with Moscow is crucial to ending the crisis in Ukraine.

“I think it’s important to have this communication about some very important messages,” he said. “There is an opportunity for diplomacy to play a role and to chart a path because we’ve had these elections. The Ukrainian people have chosen a president. He’s a capable man. And it’s quite possible he could have a proper relationship with Putin and there could be a proper relationship between Ukraine and Russia. But change is needed for that to happen, and that’s the message I will be delivering this evening.

Ukrainians on Sunday elected Petro Poroshenko as their new president in the first nationwide elections since the crisis began.

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