Kerry seeks Ukraine talks with Lavrov

US top diplomat flies to Paris to set up meeting with Russian counterpart after Putin and Obama discuss Crimea crisis.

    Kerry seeks Ukraine talks with Lavrov
    Lavrov claimed 'Western nations are trying to make up proof for global isolation of Russia' [AP]

    US Secretary of State John Kerry has made a last-minute change of plans to fly to Paris with the aim of setting up talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the Ukraine crisis.

    Kerry is due to meet his counterpart on Sunday evening to seek a common ground between the Kremlin and the West.

    The move came after Russian President Vladimir Putin called his US counterpart Barack Obama on Friday to say he was interested in discussing a US proposal on the table to resolve the standoff over Ukraine.

    Lavrov and Kerry already discussed Ukraine in a phone call on Saturday as well as the timing of further contact, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the call was initiated by the US.

    Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reporting from Washington DC, said "it is really about trying to push forward, get some sort of diplomatic solution that everyone can live with. No one is going to get exactly what they want out of this, but Barack Obama believes that the diplomacy is the way ahead."

    Meanwhile, Lavrov told a Russian television station on Saturday that Western nations were trying "to artificially create evidence" for isolating Russia.

    Lavrov said he was surprised to see "the obsession with what they are trying to not only find evidence for leading Russia into isolation, but also to artificially create some".

    "Isolation is a term coined by our Western partners, who are trying to act on the basis of neo-imperial nostalgic ambitions... The time for this has passed. We must think not about isolation of partners, but about how to involve everyone, without exception, to work together," he added. 

    Lavrov also said Moscow had "absolutely no intention" of ordering its armed forces to cross over the Ukrainian border, in a statement that appears to rule out an invasion of mainland Ukraine following Russia's seizure of Crimea.

    Troops at the border

    The Russian president had recently ordered troops to assemble by the border with Ukraine, with the US estimating on Friday that his total forces in Crimea numbered about 40,000. 

    Obama had earlier told CBS news that Russian troops were "massing along that border under the guise of military exercises".

    He insisted that Russia needed "to move back those troops and to begin negotiations directly with the Ukrainian government, as well as the international community".

    He denied Russian statements that the West was trying to encircle Russia.

    "We have no interest in circling Russia and we have no interest in Ukraine beyond letting Ukrainian people make their own decisions about their own lives," he said.

    Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp reporting from Moscow, said "the current government in Ukraine is unacceptable to Russia. And Russia is maintaining that there can be no movement at all unless the Ukrainians come out and sign off on Crimea and say that Crimea is not part of Ukraine any more. I can't see them saying that."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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