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Ukraine agrees to new talks if Russia backs elections

AFP

Ukraine will back new talks in Geneva in a bid to defuse a political crisis with Russia as long as Moscow supports presidential elections on May 25, Ukrainian Acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia said on Tuesday.

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“If Russia is ready to commit itself to support these elections, and to eliminate this threat, and eliminate its support for the extremist elements in Ukraine, we are ready to have such a round of meetings,” he said.

Deshchytsia was speaking to a news conference after a Council of Europe meeting in Vienna on the crisis in Ukraine, where there are widespread clashes between Ukrainian soldiers and armed pro-Russian separatists.

Earlier on Tuesday however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it would be “unusual” to hold a presidential election in Ukraine while the government was deploying the army against some of its people.

Lavrov, who was also speaking in Vienna after the Council of Europe meeting, said he did not oppose a follow-up meeting to the April 17 round of talks in Geneva, where he had been joined by Ukraine Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia, US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU representative Catherine Ashton.

But he warned that any new round of international talks would be like “going round in circles” if the representatives of Russian-speaking areas of the country were not at the table.

Ukraine is due to hold an election on May 25.

The previous Geneva meeting called for the dissolution of all illegal military formations in Ukraine. It also said those occupying buildings must leave them and be disarmed and suggested an amnesty for all anti-government protesters.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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