Kerry, Lavrov to meet Thursday on Ukraine, Mideast

AFP , Wednesday 3 Dec 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at an OSCE meeting on Thursday in Basel, Switzerland, a US official said, with topics set to include Ukraine and the Middle East.

The official said Kerry -- in Brussels Wednesday for a meeting of the US-led coalition against the jihadist Islamic State group -- and Lavrov would "discuss a range of topics of mutual interest including issues related to the Middle East".

The official gave no further details and there was no immediate confirmation from Moscow.

The 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is in charge of monitoring the shaky cease-fire between the Ukrainian army and separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine agreed in September.

The Kerry-Lavrov meeting will come two days after NATO foreign ministers at talks in Brussels criticised Moscow for backing pro-Kremlin rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The crisis has plunged Russia and the West into their deepest confrontation since the Cold War, with the United States and the EU imposing sanctions on Moscow over its involvement in Ukraine.

The meeting also comes as several countries try to relaunch the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, while Russia and the West remain at odds over Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Kerry and Lavrov last met during talks on Iran's disputed nuclear programme in Vienna in November.

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