US Secretary of State John Kerry held a brief meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Wednesday, during which he urged Moscow to engage in direct talks with Ukraine over mounting tensions in the country.
It was the first time Kerry and Lavrov have met face-to-face since Russian troops effectively occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula last week.
“The Secretary urged direct talks between Russia and Ukraine,” a senior State Department official said of the meeting, which took place on the sidelines of a conference on Lebanon.
Earlier in the day, foreign ministers from the United States, France, Germany, Britain and Russia met separately to discuss the situation in Ukraine, while the European Union offered the country’s new leaders 11 billion dollars in financial aid over the next couple of years, provided they reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund. Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, also promised bilateral financial help.
Tensions in Ukraine first erupted in November, after former president Viktor Yanukovich backed out of a trade deal with the EU to negotiate a $15 billion financial aid agreement with Russia instead.
The move ultimately led to Yanukovich’s downfall on February 22, following months of fierce demonstrations.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-05