German foreign minister to visit Ukraine Tuesday

AFP , Monday 12 May 2014

Germany's foreign minister will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday to support efforts for a national dialogue aimed at resolving the conflict between the government and pro-Russian separatists, his ministry said.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier "intends to travel to Ukraine tomorrow. He'll hold talks in Kiev, among other things, with representatives of the Ukrainian government," his spokesman told reporters on Monday.

Steinmeier, who has played a key role in efforts to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, will aim to "support the efforts of the OSCE, efforts for a national dialogue", he said.

The minister also plans to travel to the restive east of Ukraine.

The European Union on Monday ramped up its sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, adding 13 Russians and Crimeans as well as two companies to its exiting blacklist, EU diplomats said.

Under plans by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a round table bringing together the different parties in the Ukraine crisis is due to begin in Kiev on Wednesday, the foreign ministry spokesman said.

Veteran German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, a former ambassador and current head of the annual Munich Security Conference, has been chosen by the OSCE as a co-moderator of the dialogue.

The foreign ministry spokesman, when asked whether the OSCE talks would include representatives from Russian-speaking regions, said: "Naturally, without representatives of the east and south it wouldn't make sense".

Steinmeier will later Tuesday head on to Paris where he has been invited to take part in a French cabinet meeting on Wednesday and will speak about Ukraine.

He'll also discuss other international issues, including the European parliamentary elections later in the month.

Berlin also said it "regretted" Sunday's independence referendums in two eastern Ukraine regions.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said presidential elections planned on May 25 would be crucial for helping stabilise the country.

"We expect especially from Russia that it uses its significant influence so that this stabilisation becomes possible," he told reporters.

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