World Bulletin/News Desk
Echoing remarks by President Vladimir Putin in the past few days, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the key to resolving Ukraine's crisis was genuine dialogue between Kiev and the east - where pro-Russian separatists have rebelled against the national leadership.
"As the president (Putin) has said more than once, we are ready for dialogue with representatives of Kiev, we are ready for dialogue with Petro Poroshenko," told a news conference when asked about Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine.
"Taking into account the expression of will that has taken place, which we respect, we will be prepared to establish pragmatic, equitable dialogue on the existing foundation - by which I mean the fulfilment of all existing agreements, including in trade and the gas sector," he said.
Lavrov did not directly question the legitimacy of the election, in which millions of potential voters in the east were unable to cast ballots, but he left the door open for such criticism by saying the campaign was "not without problems".
"Far from all candidates were able to go the distance ... Many had to quit the race, in some cases physically fearing for their lives in the face of threats," Lavrov said after talks with South Sudan's foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's next president, Petro Poroshenko, said on Monday he hoped to meet Russia's leaders in the first half of June and said restoring stability in eastern regions of his country would require Moscow's involvement.
Armed pro-Russian separatists have taken control of some towns and cities in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine and they prevented many people in the region from taking part in Sunday's presidential election which exit polls show Poroshenko to have won.
He repeated his readiness to speak with separatists who laid down their weapons but added he would not meet "terrorists" who threatened the security of the state. Poroshenko also said he would use all legal means to secure the return to Ukraine of the Crimea region, annexed by Russia in March.Last Mod: 26 Mayıs 2014, 12:48