Kerry, Lavrov open tough talks on Ukraine, Nemtsov

2nd March 2015, Comments 0 comments

US Secretary of State John Kerry began tough talks in Geneva Monday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov due to focus on the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Kerry was also expected to press Lavrov to ensure that Moscow carries out a credible investigation into the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

The two men briefly shook hands for the cameras, but the atmosphere was tense and they did not make any statements.

The meeting in an upscale Geneva hotel comes only days after Kerry accused Russian officials of lying "to my face" about Moscow's involvement in the Ukraine conflict, which has triggered the worst post-Cold War crisis between the US and its European allies, and Russia.

A senior State Department official told reporters travelling with Kerry that he had been referring to "the Russian propaganda machine."

What Moscow says is happening in Ukraine "doesn't correspond to the facts on the ground," the official said.

The UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Monday more than 6,000 people have been killed since the violence erupted in Ukraine in April.

He called on all sides to respect a fragile peace deal, and "halt the indiscriminate shelling and other hostilities that have created a dreadful situation for civilians."

Kerry is expected to warn Lavrov that the US and EU are already working on another slew of sanctions if Moscow does not adhere to the new ceasefire deal which went into force on February 15, US officials said.

It was also the first high-level meeting since the fatal shooting of Nemtsov on Friday which has sparked outrage both in Russia and abroad.

Kerry told ABC television before arriving in Geneva that there needed to be a "thorough, transparent, real investigation not just of who actually fired the shots, but who, if anyone may have ordered, or instructed this."

US officials said that they would judge the investigation according to how it was conducted and its findings.

"We'll be looking at a broad range of factors related to compliance with the agreements that have been made and related to Russian actions on the ground," another US State Department official said.


© 2015 AFP

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