Dutch Foreign Minister Mark Rutte (L) greets US President Barack Obama at The World Forum in The Hague on March 24, 2014 on the first day of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). (AFP PHOTO/POOL/FREEK VAN DEN BERGH)
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U.S. President Barack Obama conferred with major industrialised allies in the Group of Seven on Monday on how to pressure Russia over its seizure of Crimea after Ukraine told its remaining troops to leave the region for their own safety.Obama, who has imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow than European leaders over its takeover of the Black Sea peninsula, sought backing for his firm line at a meeting deliberately called to exclude Russia, which joined in 1998 to form the G8. Since the emergency meeting held on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague was announced last week, President Vladimir Putin has signed laws completing Russia's annexation of the region.That effectively ends any Ukrainian resistance, less than a month since Putin claimed Russia's right to intervene militarily on its neighbour's territory.White House officials accompanying Obama expressed concern on Monday at what they said was a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine and warned that any further military intervention would trigger wider sanctions than the measures taken so far. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU's most powerful leader, has taken a tough line with Putin and supported EU moves to reduce the bloc's long-term dependence on Russian energy.
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