KEY LARGO, Florida — US President Barack Obama has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel he welcomes the unified position of the United States and the European Union on Ukraine, the White House said Friday.

The leaders agreed that Russia must pull back its forces from Ukraine’s Crimea region, allow international observers and human rights monitors into Crimea to make sure the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are protected, and support free and fair presidential elections. They also discussed the need for Russia to form a contact group to hold direct talks between the two governments.

Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula last Saturday.

The White House said Obama telephoned Merkel on Friday after he arrived in Key Largo, Florida, for a weekend getaway with his family.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.