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May 11, 2015 6:27 AM

Reports: US, Russian foreign ministers to hold talks Tuesday

The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet in Sochi on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, for talks on ongoing unrest in Ukraine, Syria and Yemen, Russian news agencies reported Monday.

State news agency RIA-Novosti cited a diplomatic source as saying the Kremlin hopes Kerry will bring new proposals on reaching a settlement in Ukraine.

There was no immediate confirmation from the State Department on the trip to Russia, although Kerry has made it clear for several months he'd like to go. The last time he visited Russia was May 2013.

Ukraine continues to be embroiled in sporadic conflict despite a cease-fire sealed in mid-February.

Western nations 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 Ukraine with training for its troops, calling it a destabilizing policy.

Interfax news agency cited an unnamed official as saying the issue of U.S. 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 cease-fire.

Ukraine says more than 8,000 people have died in the conflict that began in April 2014 between government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Russia has stuck firmly to the line that the Ukrainian government retains the bulk of responsibility for bringing about a settlement.

"We will use all the influence we have on the leadership in Donetsk and Luhansk to ensure the process proceeds at the required pace and attains the necessary level," Russian Vladimir Putin told Merkel on Sunday.


AP writer Matt Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


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