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Abe, U.S. Vice President Biden touch base on Ukraine, trade

Reuters

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Friday on topics including the situation in Ukraine and trade negotiations, an Obama administration official said.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday that talks between Russia and Western powers aimed at ending tensions in Ukraine have potential, but that Washington and its allies are prepared to impose more sanctions on Moscow if the situation fails to improve.

The U.S. official said the phone conversation touched on Obama’s April 23 to 25 visit to Japan, the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade negotiations, and Ukraine.

Tokyo and Washington are trying to narrow gaps on bilateral trade seen as vital to sealing the broader TPP pact ahead of Obama’s summit with Abe.