World Bulletin/News Desk
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris at the Russian Ambassador's residence, according to a U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki.
Kerry had been heading back to Washington from Saudi Arabia after accompanying U.S. President Barack Obama on an official visit, but after the call between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday the secretary's plane changed course and headed for Paris.
Obama suggested in his call with Putin that the Russian government commit its response to a U.S. proposal, which Kerry previously presented to Lavrov at The Hague, in writing.
The American proposal was drawn up in consultation with Europe and Ukraine, according to the White House. It suggested an “off ramp” for Russia that would include sending Russian troops in Crimea back to their barracks and opening direct talks with Ukraine’s provisional government.
The White House also said the presidents agreed that Kerry and Lavrov would meet to further discuss the proposal.
Lavrov meanwhile, in a TV interview Saturday, said that Russia had “no intention” of invading Ukraine, in what is considered an attempt to defuse tensions with the west.
The United States and European Union are trying to find a diplomatic solution to de-escalate tensions between the west and Russia after the annexation of Crimea in what has been called the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.
Kiev estimated this week that there were some 100,000 Russian soldiers positioned around Ukraine's eastern borders, a figure neither confirmed nor denied by Moscow.Last Mod: 30 Mart 2014, 12:30