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France lines up with Obama on Ukraine issue

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PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande agrees with President Barack Obama that Russia must take steps toward pulling out troops sent into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula or face worse relations with the world community.

The French presidency said in a statement they spoke by phone Saturday and agreed that a planned March 16 referendum in Crimea — home to many pro-Russian citizens — on "lacks any legal basis."

They agreed Russia should let in international observers and quickly accept the creation of a contact group to allow for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine.

The statement said that unspecified "new measures" would be taken unless progress was made on such issues.

Moscow has refused dialogue with Ukraine's new leaders and been reinforcing its armed presence on the Black Sea peninsula.

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