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Obama: IMF deal for Ukraine a 'major step forward'

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ROME (AP) — President Barack Obama says a pledge of up to $18 billion in loans to Ukraine from the International Monetary Fund is a major step forward.

Obama says the support package will help Ukraine sustain its economy and meet its people's long-term needs.

He says it will require structural reforms, but also means Ukraine can follow countries like Poland that have seen incredible growth.

Obama says the IMF announcement is a concrete signal that the world stands united with Ukraine as it makes tough choices in a difficult time.

Obama is also calling on Congress to do its part. The House and Senate are poised to pass versions of a $1 billion loan guarantee package on Thursday.

Obama spoke at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

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