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Four-way talks on Ukraine open in Geneva

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-04-17 18:58

Four-way talks on Ukraine open in Geneva

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands at the start of a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine as diplomats from the US, Ukraine, Russia and the European Union gather for discussions in Geneva April 17, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

GENEVA - The European Union, Russia, United States and Ukraine on Thursday began talks in Geneva to discuss the ongoing tensions in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived Thursday morning to join the high-level talks with his counterparts, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian Acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya, who arrived in Geneva on Wednesday.

Top diplomats from the four parties sat at one table for the first time since the crisis began in the Eastern European country to find ways to resolve the situation.

As part of the diplomatic effort, during the morning Kerry met with Ashton, Deshchytsya and Lavrov respectively. Ashton met with Deshchytsya on Wednesday night.

A new wave of unrest recently erupted in three eastern states of Ukraine, where pro-Russia protesters staged rallies calling for federalism in the country or joining the Russian Federation. Some government buildings were stormed and have been occupied since April 6.

The latest developments followed Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signing a treaty on March 18 to make Crimea part of Russian territory, with almost 97 percent of voters on the peninsula backing secession from Ukraine in a referendum.

Earlier this week, Kiev started military operations against the pro-Russia militants occupying government buildings.

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