Obama, Putin discuss Ukraine, Syria, DPRK nuclear test

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday made a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the Ukraine crisis, Syria peace talks and the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"President Obama emphasised the importance of working towards a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine through full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all parties," Xinhua quoted a White House statement as saying.

Obama underscored that "the key next step" is for the sides to reach agreement on the modalities of local elections in the Donbass region of Ukraine, which must meet standards of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Donetsk People's Republic reached an agreement in Minsk, Belarus under the OSCE auspices to halt the war in the Donbass region. But the deal has failed to stop the fighting in the region.

On Syria, the two leaders "discussed the urgent need to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 on Syria," the statement said.

The resolution, passed in December 2015, calls for a ceasefire and political settlement of the Syrian crisis. It also requests the UN to convene the parties to engage in formal negotiations in early January, 2016.

Finally, the two leaders discussed "the importance of a strong and united international response to North Korea's nuclear test."

The DPRK claimed last Wednesday that it had conducted the first hydrogen bomb test.

While disputing the DPRK's claim about the test, Washington vowed to punish Pyongyang for its flagrant violations of UN Security Council resolutions. The US has been holding consultations in the past week with major countries on how to respond to the DPRK nuclear test.