US President Barack Obama, in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, emphasized the need to work toward a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine and address the conflict in Syria, the White House said.
Obama told Putin that a key next step in resolving the Ukrainian crisis was for all sides to agree on the modalities of local elections in the Donbas region of Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels agreed to a new truce deal that was negotiated between Moscow and Kiev envoys in the Belarussian capital Minsk with the help of a senior negotiator from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The deal goes into immediate effect and replaces one broken just hours after its signature at the end of last month.
The two leaders also "noted the necessity of taking steps to foster productive discussions between representatives of the Syrian opposition and regime under United Nations auspices, principally by reducing violence and addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian people," the statement said.
On Jan. 1, a UN-backed political process that would let Syrian factions form a transitional governing body in six months and hold UN-supervised national elections in Syria within 18 months was initiated.
The US and Russia along with the three other permanent members of the UN Security Council - the UK, France and China - all agreed to push for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria in a resolution passed on Dec. 18.
Obama and Putin also discussed the "importance of a strong and united international response" to North Korea's recent nuclear test.
Separately, the Kremlin said in a statement that Obama and Putin expressed support during their phone call for an easing of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran after protesters in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy earlier this month in response to Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al Nimr along with 46 others accused of terrorism.
After the incident, Saudi Arabia ordered the Iranian diplomatic mission in Riyadh to leave the country within 48 hours.