Obama Discusses Ukraine, TTIP with EU Leaders
"The world is safer and more just" when the European Union and the United States stand together, US President Barack Obama stated.
Obama is on an official trip to Brussels, the first such visit to the EU's political heart since 2005.
Leaders of both parties stressed they have similar views on Ukraine's standoff with Russia and vowed to finalize details on a controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a document which could lead to free trade between the EU and the US.
Ukraine overshadowed all other issues that were on the agenda.
European Council President Herman van Rompuy described Russian actions on the Crimean peninsula as "a disgrace in the 21st century," as he was quoted by the BBC.
Obama called on Russia to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. He praised the EU for measures it adopted against Moscow last week, warning Russia that its "isolation will deepen" if it continues to foment tensions.
Earlier, the group of seven industrialized nations, known as G-7, issued a similar warning, threatening to use "damaging economic sanctions".
United States' President also asserted that, though such measures would pose a risk to gas-dependent European countries, discussions were "under way" on facilitating exports of US gas to the continent.
Before his first official visit to the EU's headquarters, the US President went to a cemetery in Flanders to pay tribute to fallen US soldiers who died during WWI and are buried there.
Obama is also to meet NATO's secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen later on Thursday.
Then he will travel to Rome, where he will be received by Pope Francis. Belgium has spent around EUR 10 M on security measures prior to Obama's visit.
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