- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 4, 2017

President Trump spoke by phone Saturday with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, pledging to work with Ukraine and Russia to resolve tensions between the two countries, according to the White House.

“We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Poroshenko, according to the White House.

He stuck a more conciliatory tone than his ambassador to the United Stations, Nikki Haley, who a day earlier took a hard line against Russia.

“The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” Mrs. Haley told the world body.

The U.S. imposed economic and financial sanctions on Russia in response to its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has sought better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking cooperation in fighting the Islamic State and ending the civil war in Syria.

He also has been criticized for being too friendly toward Mr. Putin, especially in light of U.S. intelligence agencies blaming Russia for email hacks during the presidential campaign that hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and therefore benefited Mr. Trump.

Other sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia for the hacking were eased last week by Mr. Trump. The modification, plans for which began under the previous administration, cleared the way for U.S. information technology imports to Russia.

The brief White House statement said Mr. Trump and Mr. Poroshenko addressed a variety of other topics and a potential meeting in the near future.

While spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, Mr. Trump also spoke with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentilon. They discussed strengthening cooperation across a range of shared interests, including security and counterterrorism, according to the White House.

They specifically discussed the crisis in Libya and the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe.

Mr. Trump reiterated the U.S. commitment to NATO and emphasized the importance of all NATO allies sharing the monetary burden of defense spending.

The president also agreed to attend the G-7 Summit in Taormina, Italy in May, and said he looked forward to meeting with the prime minister at that time, according to the White House.

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