PARIS — US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday pressed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to hold face-to-face talks with his counterpart from the new Ukrainian government on the Crimea crisis.
Kerry, who has worked closely with Lavrov on Syria, made the appeal on the sidelines of an international meeting on Lebanon here.
“Secretary Kerry had a brief pull aside discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov after the larger sideline discussion they had with other foreign ministers,” a senior State Department official said.
“The Secretary urged direct talks between Russia and Ukraine. They will be meeting again in approximately an hour to continue their discussions.”
However, Western hopes of engineering direct Russia-Ukraine talks in Paris hung in the balance on Wednesday amid confusion over whether Ukraine’s acting foreign minister had left the French capital.
An official at Ukraine’s embassy said the acting minister had left for the airport having failed to secure a hoped-for meeting with his Russian counterpart. But that was immediately denied by US officials who said they were still hopeful the meeting could take place.