US and Russia work on easing Ukraine crisis

 
Marion Dakers
AMERICA’S surprise meeting with Russian officials in Paris last night yielded some common ground over the annexing of Crimea, though tensions remain high.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who stopped off in France following a Middle Eastern trip, said he had stressed during four hours of talks with the Russians that the country’s actions in Ukraine are regarded as “illegal and illegitimate”.

“The US and Russia have differences of opinion about events that led to this crisis but both of us recognise the importance of finding a diplomatic solution and simultaneously meeting the needs of the Ukrainian people, and that we agreed on tonight,” Kerry told a press conference, adding that the US is still concerned by the number of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.

Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, hoped to build on a phone call on Friday between presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, according to senior US officials.

“We have agreed to work with the Ukrainian government and people to achieve progress in rights of minorities and linguistic rights,” Lavrov said after the talks.