GENEVA, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – Four-party talks on the crisis in Ukraine with delegates from Russia, the EU, and the US began in Geneva on Thursday.
The meeting, aimed at resolving the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine, is being attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.
Lavrov and Kerry met behind closed doors ahead of the talks on Thursday morning.
The Russian foreign minister earlier rejected allegations levied by Kiev that Russia would cancel the meeting. He also called groundless Ukraine’s claims that the domestic political situation in the country will not be discussed at the meeting, adding that de-escalation, the disarmament of illegal groups, constitutional reform and the upcoming May elections will all be on the agenda.
Russia insists on a deep and transparent constitutional reform in Ukraine, involving all political and regional interests, especially in light of the pro-federalization rallies which have recently intensified in the country’s eastern regions.
Moscow has called on Kiev authorities to respect the interests of all ethnic groups in the country and acknowledge that Russians have the same rights as Ukrainians, in particular, to respect the use of the Russian language, which has faced a ban on official use.
Eastern Ukraine, which has a large proportion of Russian speakers, has been swept by rallies supporting federalization since last month.