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Kerry To meet Putin In First Russian Visit Since Start Of Ukraine Crisis

Kerry To meet Putin In First Russian Visit Since Start Of Ukraine Crisis

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State  is planning his trip to the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The three are to discuss  Iran, Syria and Ukraine amongst other issues.

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The trip has been confirmed by Russian and US officials.

RIA Novosti news agency quoted a Russian diplomatic source as saying that Kerry’s arrival was “very symbolic,” since the top US diplomat had canceled the trip several times.

The Guardian Reports:

It will be his first trip to Russia since the start of the Ukraine crisis, which has badly damaged relations between Moscow and the west, and only his second since taking office.

“This trip is part of our ongoing effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure US views are clearly conveyed,” state department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a written statement. Iran, Syria, Ukraine and other issues will be discussed, Reuters reported.

After his brief stop in Russia, Kerry will travel to Turkey for a meeting of Nato foreign ministers and return to Washington for a summit of Gulf Arab leaders that President Barack Obama is hosting at Camp David.

Kerry has made it clear for several months that he would like to go to Russia. The last time he visited the country was in May 2013.

Sporadic conflict has continued in Ukraine despite a ceasefire agreement signed in mid-February.

Western countries have accused Russia of supporting separatist rebels in Ukraine with arms and manpower – a claim that Moscow has denied.

Russia has bristled at recent efforts by Washington to provide training for Ukrainian troops, calling it a destabilising policy.

Russia’s Interfax news agency cited an unnamed official as saying the issue of US military assistance to Ukraine would be raised at the meeting in Sochi.

During a visit to Moscow on Sunday, German chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russia to use its influence to persuade separatists in Ukraine to abide by the oft-violated ceasefire.