Talks have been held by telephone on U.S. initiative between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.
"The talks centered on the situation in southeastern Ukraine. Lavrov said that the situation has deteriorated as a consequence of the continuing shelling of populated areas by Ukrainian forces in flagrant violation of the Minsk accords," it said.
"Lavrov and Kerry urged an immediate end to the artillery strikes in Donbas, as well as heavy weaponry pullout," it said.
"The sides reaffirmed their readiness to facilitate the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis."
"Lavrov said in response to Kerry's proposal to expand the negotiating formats used in the effort to settle the conflict, that Russia was prepared to do all it can to push the conflicting parties towards a peaceful settlement, aware that real results can only be achieved through a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, which Kiev has been dodging, opting for the use of force in a bid to suppress southeastern Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Lavrov again urged the U.S. to influence the Ukrainian leadership into scrapping the military scenario, it said.
The Russian foreign minister said that Kiev had not responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal, laid down in his massage to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on January 15, urging the conflicting parties to withdraw heavy weaponry from the frontline in compliance with the Minsk Memorandum of September 19 2014, although such an approach was backed during talks between the foreign ministers of Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France in Berlin on January 21, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
"Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also spoke about the Kiev leadership's unfulfilled pledge to launch a comprehensive constitutional process involving all regions and political forces of Ukraine. Nor can progress be seen in investigating the numerous crimes, committed during the inner Ukrainian conflict," it said.
Lavrov and Kerry also discussed the situation surrounding Syria in the context of an inter-Syrian meeting on ways to overcome the internal conflict in that country, to be held in Moscow on January 26.
The parties discussed other issues on the Russian-American agenda, including the schedule of bilateral contacts.
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