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Obama, Merkel Discuss Ukraine Situation, ISIL

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The United States will continue to stand with nations around the world in sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine, President Barack Obama said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today.

The two leaders met at the White House, where Merkel briefed the president on her recent discussions on the situation in Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Merkel and Obama will continue to seek a diplomatic resolution. “We are in absolute agreement that the 21st century cannot … have us stand idle and simply allow the borders of Europe to be redrawn at the barrel of the gun,” Obama said.

NATO Presence in Central, Eastern Europe

The United States and its NATO allies will continue building up alliance presence in Central and Eastern Europe, he said. The United States has rotated Army units through the Baltic Republics and Poland, sailed ships into the Baltic and Black seas and contributed aircraft to the Baltic Air Policing effort.

The president and Merkel discussed ongoing sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

“We agreed that sanctions on Russia need to remain fully in force until Russia complies fully with its obligations,” he said. “Even as we continue to work for a diplomatic solution, we are making it clear again today that if Russia continues on its current course … Russia's isolation will only worsen both politically and economically.”

The two leaders also discussed ongoing coalition air operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces in Syria and Iraq. The United States and Germany “remain united in our determination to destroy” ISIL, Obama said.

He thanked Merkel for Germany’s assistance as part of coalition efforts against the terror group.

“In a significant milestone in its foreign policy, Germany has taken the important step of equipping Kurdish forces in Iraq, and Germany is preparing to lead the training mission of local forces in Irbil,” the president said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)

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