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Obama tries to rally world to isolate Russia

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - President Barack Obama gathered with world leaders in a day of delicate diplomacy, as he sought to rally the international community Monday around efforts to isolate Russia following its incursion into Ukraine.

Nuclear terrorism was the official topic as Obama and other world leaders streamed in to a convention center in The Hague for a two-day nuclear summit. But the real focus was on a hurriedly scheduled meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized economies to address the crisis in Ukraine on the sidelines of the nuclear summit.

The U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan were to participate - but not Russia. Discussion among Obama and his G-7 counterparts will center on economic aid to Ukraine, while at the same time seeking to segregate Putin from the exclusive group, which Russia usually joins in Group of Eight meetings.

In a show of western solidarity, Obama declared shortly after arriving in the Netherlands on Monday morning that the U.S. and Europe stand together behind Ukraine.

"We're united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far," Obama said after meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters the G-7 meeting was aimed at foreshadowing "what economic sanctions Russia will be faced with if it continues down this course." He said the countries also would discuss international efforts to assist the fledgling Ukrainian government, as well as what the G-7's relationship with Russia will be if the current standoff continues.

However, Rhodes indicated that the U.S. and other nations were not prepared to formally kick Russia out of the Group of Eight. "The door is open to Russia to deescalate the situation," he said.

Rhodes said that while the G-7 would not levy joint sanctions on behalf of the alliance, the goal was to have individual members coordinate their approach as they levy future penalties. "We would like to see a steady ratcheting up of that pressure," he said.

Obama also sought to coax support one of Moscow's closest allies as he met one-on-one talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China has often sided with Russia in disputes with the West, but U.S. officials have been appealing to Beijing's well-known opposition to outside interference in another nation's domestic affairs.

Obama treaded carefully in statements with Xi before their meeting, saying only that they planned to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

"I believe ultimately, that by working together, China and the United States can help strengthen international law and respect for the sovereignty of nations and establish the kind of rules internationally that allow all peoples to thrive," Obama said in a subtle appeal for Chinese support.

China, a frequent Russian ally, abstained a week ago from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution declaring Crimea's secession referendum illegal. With Russia vetoing the measure and the 13 other council members voting in favor, China's abstention served to isolate Moscow internationally.

The long-planned nuclear summit kicked off with a highly theatrical opening ceremony, plus an announcement that Japan would turn over to the U.S. more than 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium and a supply of highly-enriched uranium, a victory for Obama's efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world.

But no issue commands more of Obama's and Europe's attention than Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the fear that Moscow could decide to expand further into Ukraine.

Obama also is attempting to use his weeklong trip to personally reconnect not only with Europe but Asia and the Middle East, all strategically crucial regions with their own tensions and qualms about the U.S.

On Tuesday, Obama plans a joint meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, a session preceded by a sit-down with Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate in the United Arab Emirates federation.

In an interview with the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant published before he arrived Monday, Obama says his message to European leaders is that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to "understand the economic and political consequences of his actions in Ukraine."

Still, he said he does not view Europe as a battleground between the East and the West. "That's the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War," he said. "On the contrary, it's important that Ukraine have good relations with the United States, Russia, and Europe."

More broadly, the Ukraine crisis will test Obama's ability to forge a unified and forceful stance against Russia from European leaders who are alarmed by Putin's moves but whose economies are dependent on Russian energy and trade.

In the interview, Obama conceded that the sanctions he has threatened against Russian economic sectors could have worldwide impacts.

But, he added: "If Russia continues to escalate the situation, we need to be prepared to impose a greater cost."

Join the discussion

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rickowens1950 March 24 2014 at 2:34 PM

Obama, go play golf, no one is listening to you!

Flag Reply +14 rate up
rgkarasiewicz March 24 2014 at 4:58 PM

What does this country know about international law?

Flag Reply +9 rate up
gmj123 March 24 2014 at 4:59 PM

Americans are safer when Obama is on vacation.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
jwosr98 March 24 2014 at 4:25 PM

WE have troops all over the world trying to impose America's way of thinking on other countries
and OIbama has the nerve to chastize Russia. He should get his butt back here and striaghten out Our problems before trying to run the rest of the world.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
juan354 jwosr98 March 24 2014 at 4:46 PM

Our president don't want the USA in this. We have our own problems here. Afghanistan may take care of this. He is doing the right thing, passing it over the United Nations.

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cshae89546 March 24 2014 at 2:27 PM

Recent events pretty much explain just what "On all thse issues,......" was really all about.

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Phil cshae89546 March 24 2014 at 2:30 PM

Ya sounds too fishey to me.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
the greatest March 24 2014 at 2:27 PM

Talk is cheap . blah blah blah

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
StevefromSacto the greatest March 24 2014 at 2:29 PM

Yeah, right, and what's your solution? Invade Crimea? Nuke Moscow? Text without context is pretext.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
sandinbox StevefromSacto March 24 2014 at 3:04 PM

Put ukainian, NATO, us troops on Ukraine's eastern border between Russia. We promised to protect Ukraine when they turned over their nuclear arms to Russia...That was a laugher to begin with our dear leader clinton helped put that deal in place. Russia has always been the aggressor and oppressor in that part of the world. Ukraine has never been...so why were those arms given to a bully country like Russia? Now where is Mr Clinton with his BS. I haven't heard a peep from him. Got some Russian money coming into the foundation Mr. Clinto that you can't afford to lose? Ukraine wouldn't be helpless at this moment. For those of you wanting to deminish our miliary resources. Watch and learn. When you least expect it a stalin/hilter comes out of the shadows to threaten the world. Don't listen to the Putin trolls on these websites ....they are liars...liars...liars...they know that most Americans are clueless when it comes to world affairs and they can tell them all kinds of lies. Especially so many of our young people who think that marxism will solve all of our problems. Russia tried it...it didn't work . They had to oppress and kill their people to go along with such an insane ideology. Putin is not a communist per se...he's a dictator, a thug and a criminal who has made him and his KGB croonies into billionaires.

Flag 0 rate up
Phil the greatest March 24 2014 at 2:32 PM

You must at charge least what a penny .I think you are over paid. Dont got nutin to say dont say nutin.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Phil Phil March 24 2014 at 2:34 PM


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Yo! Joe! March 24 2014 at 2:26 PM

Wait a sec, wasn't Ms. Rutte our President's Selfie/partner? maybe this trip is all about Michelle safely in China...?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
chuckhalper March 24 2014 at 5:01 PM

When he comes home with virtually nothing but his luggage, who will he blame? That's the big question. Will it be Big Oil ? Wall Street? The Republicans ? The Koch Brothers? The Germans? NATO? Bush? Belgium Newspapers? Romney? Sun spots? Snowden? Fox News? Al-Queda?...he'll have to come up with something on the way home aboard AF1.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
jwiegand1 March 24 2014 at 2:24 PM

He couldn't rally a one person committee if he were Chairman. We should stay out of it and let Europe take the lead. They are the ones who will benefit and or loose. The only thing Obama will do is get us to pay and pay for everything. It would be better if he and Cupcake stay home and keep his family home too. Save the money to pay for what he's done here in the USA. We can't keep mortgaging our Grandchildren and their Grandchildren.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
aaldrew March 24 2014 at 2:24 PM

Obama.. Knock it off. You are trying to start another co9ld war.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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