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Talks between Putin's aide Surkov and US Nuland may become full-fledged format — diplomat

January 28, 18:30 UTC+3 MOSCOW
On January 15, Vladislav Surkov and Victoria Nuland held substantial consultations in Kaliningrad in search for compromises on Ukraine
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MOSCOW, January 28. /TASS/. The meeting between Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland was useful, and this could become a full-fledged format of Russian-US contacts, US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft said Thursday.

"We thought that it was a useful meeting and… our call's to try to support the process, the Normandy process, and we are very carefully coordinating our work with Germany and France," Tefft said in an interview with three Russian news agencies.

"I think nobody knows at this point whether there will be extra meetings, there may be, as I said before I think that the key point is to implement this agreement, and we’ll do what it takes to support early and full implementation of the Minsk Agreements," he said.

On January 15, Surkov and Nuland held substantial consultations in Kaliningrad in search for compromises on Ukraine.

"It was a kind of a brainstorm to seek compromises for implementation of the Minsk Agreements," Surkov said.

He said that "regarding some pressing issues, like the constitutional reform (in Ukraine), security and elections, ideas were put forward that may be discussed in the Contact Group in the Normandy format (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine)."

The Surkov-Nuland meeting was organized in development of talks that took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry as part of the latter’s visit to Moscow December 15 last year.

No plans for Karasin-Nuland meetings on Ukraine yet 

According to the ambassador, there are no plans yet for meetings to discuss Ukraine between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland soon.

"Right now, I don’t know of any specific meetings that are set up, I will just tell you that we’re focused on getting the agreement implemented and you know whatever it takes, whatever meetings it takes, I think Secretary Kerry would say would be fine but we haven’t set up any specific things," Tefft said in an interview with three Russian news agencies.

He said the key task now is implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

"The substance, getting the agreement, getting this worked out, getting the situation in Donetsk and Lugansk resolved is more important than any specific meeting we might have," Tefft said.

Karasin said earlier Thursday that Russia is ready to work with the United States in the Karasin-Nuland format.

"We are ready, if necessary, to use this channel of communications with the Americans. But there’s no specific date of contacts with Nuland now," he said.

In June, Russian presidential chief of staff Sergey Ivanov announced that Russia and the United States agreed to discuss the situation in Ukraine at meetings between Karasin and Nuland. The Russian deputy foreign minister and the US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs have met four times and have had several conversations by phone. There has been a pause in their contacts recently.

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