"I've been very clear in my discussions with the Russian leadership on more than one occasion, that it is necessary for Russia to take the first steps to de-escalating the situation in the east part of Ukraine", Mr Tillerson said in Kiev on Sunday. And we do not rule out that we'll be able to arrange a summit following these phone talks.
The conflict, which has killed at least 10,000 people, as well as Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 have pushed ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.
Tillerson said the United States remains committed to brokering a peaceful solution in Ukraine.
The rhetoric is remarkably different from three months ago, when while at a G7 meeting in Italy Tillerson questioned why USA taxpayers should be interested in Ukraine.
"We are disappointed by the lack of progress under the Minsk process and that's why we are appointing a special representative", Tillerson said.
129 countries set to approve nuclear ban treaty
Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland voted in favor as did Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Kazakhstan and many African and Latin American countries. Security Council - who argued that the treaty was unrealistic and that countries like North Korea would not cooperate.
The West imposed economic sanctions after Russian Federation annexed Crimea and fomented an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in spring 2014, in the wake of pro-democracy protests that ousted pro-Moscow politicians from power in Kiev.
"We do call on Russian Federation to honor its commitments that were made under the Minsk accords and to exercise influence over the separatists in the region that they have complete control over", he said, adding later: "The U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russian Federation will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered these particular sanctions".
Tillerson urged the Kremlin "to respect the ceasefire, by pulling back the heavy weapons and (allowing) the OSCE (pan-European security body) tocarry out their responsibilities" under the deal struck in February 2015. "I don't know if we will ever come to an agreement, obviously with our Russian counterparts on that. We firmly adhere to our commitments", Ukrainian leader said.
The top USA diplomat also said Washington would explore ways of changing the status quo in the Ukraine crisis, and said Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election has prevented better ties with Moscow. During the meeting, Mr. Trump broached the subject of election interference, and Putin denied any role in hacking the 2016 election.
He noted that Mr. Trump agreed with Putin on the cyber front, and that they are looking to explore ways to deal with cyber threats and cyber security.
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