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Trump Discusses NATO Visit, Ukraine In Call With Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

The White House says President Donald Trump has discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine during a call with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and agreed to attend a meeting of alliance leaders later this year.

The statement on February 5 said the two "discussed the potential for a peaceful resolution of the conflict" in eastern Ukraine, without providing details.

The previous U.S. administration and other allies slapped sanctions on Russia for its illegal 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and in retaliation for Moscow's support for separatist militants in eastern Ukraine, where a flare-up in fighting has killed at least 35 in the past week.

Since the conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in April 2014, more than 9,750 people have been killed.

Trump in the past has criticized NATO, once calling it "obsolete," and has expressed a desire for warmer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, worrying some European leaders about his level of commitment.

In the call, Trump expressed "strong support" for NATO but urged fellow members to contribute more financially, in line with his campaign vow to get members to increase their funding for the alliance.

"The leaders discussed how to encourage all NATO allies to meet their defense-spending commitments," the statement said.

The White House added that Trump agreed to attend a meeting of NATO leaders in Europe in May.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and TASS