WASHINGTON, July 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday talked about the reports of a downed Malaysian passenger jet near the Russia- Ukraine border, the White House said.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Obama and Putin spoke on Thursday morning at Moscow's request about the new sanctions against Russia and near the end of the call, the leaders noted the early reports about the plane crash.
Earnest said Obama had instructed his staff to keep him updated and to contact senior Ukrainian officials about the incident. But the spokesman said he is "not in a position to confirm" the plane crash.
A Malaysian flight with 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border, the Interfax news agency reported Thursday.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a press briefing on Thursday that the United States does not have any confirmed information about casualties, the cause or additional details concerning the incident.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those on board, their families and loved ones." Psaki said. "We're closely monitoring the situation."
During his conversation with Putin, Obama emphasized that he remains committed to a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis and the sanctions he announced Wednesday were not his preferred course of action.
Obama also warned Putin that Russia would face continued costs and isolation unless it takes concrete steps to de-escalate the situation, according to a statement issued by the White House.
In addition, Obama emphasized that Russia and the United States have a shared interest in supporting a stable and prosperous Ukraine, and the two leaders agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis achieved through diplomatic means.
The United States on Wednesday escalated sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, targeting firms in the financial, energy, and arms sectors of Russia.