Kerry meets Russian counterpart for Ukraine talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Sunday in Paris, where both men agreed that the crisis in Ukraine needed a diplomatic solution.
By Kate Stanton  |  March 30, 2014 at 9:02 PM
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Secretary of State John Kerry diverted his return flight to the United States from Saudi Arabia to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris.

After four hours of talks at the Russian ambassador's residence, Kerry told reporters that he and his counterpart wanted a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine.

"We both made suggestions as to how that will be achieved ... and I will return to Washington to consult with President Obama on his choices," Kerry said in Paris. "We are trying to find a way to defuse this."

But Kerry said that Russia had not agreed to pull its troops from the Ukrainian border, despite the Kremlin's insistence that it wanted to help stabilize an independent Ukraine.

“A way forward in Ukraine must include a pullback of Russia’s very large military presence on the Ukrainian border,” Kerry said. “We believe it’s creating fear and intimidation. It doesn’t create the climate that we need and the dialogue and the messages to the Ukrainians themselves.”

Lavrov said in a separate conference that his conversation with Kerry had been "very, very constructive."

The Sunday talks followed President Barack Obama's phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

The White House said that Obama "suggested" that the Kremlin submit a written response to a diplomatic solution drafted by the U.S. in collaboration with partners in Ukraine. They agreed that Kerry and Lavrov would discuss details at their meeting.

[CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post]

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