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Lavrov urges US to respect results of Crimea referendum

March 24, 2014, 23:27 UTC+3 THE HAGUE
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THE HAGUE, March 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to respect the results of the referendum in Crimea and emphasised that the rampancy of radicals in Ukraine must be stopped and they must be kept away from political life.

“We stressed the need to respect the results of the referendum in Crimea and to take resolute measures to prevent the rampancy of radicals and their induction into the political life in Ukraine,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov noted after his meeting with Kerry on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on Monday, March 24, that Russia and the U.S. shared the understanding that Kiev should move towards constitutional reform.

“We spoke of the need to urge the authorities in Kiev to pay the closest attention to constitutional reform that would take into account the interests of all regions of Ukraine,” the Russian minister said.

He thinks Washington understands that Kiev should be prodded into implementing the February 21 agreement signed by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition.

“I think John Kerry showed an understanding of the need to ‘push’ for the implementation of the February 21 agreement. It would probably be right if this really happened and those who are running the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] and who have formed the cabinet paid this the closest attention because not all of the things agreed have been done: illegal armed groups have not been disarmed, not all seized buildings have been vacated, and squares have not been unblocked,” Lavrov said.

In his meeting with acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrei Deshchitsa, Lavrov also stressed the need for constitutional reform in Ukraine.

Lavrov said his meeting with Deshchita took place in keeping with President Vladimir Putin’s instructions to maintain working contacts with Kiev’s officials.

“The President of Russia said quite a long time ago that he had instructed members of the government to maintain working contacts with the acting ministers appointed by the Verkhovna Rada, and such contacts are made,” the minister said, adding: “One of them took place today.”

Lavrov said he had not met with Deshchita in his present capacity before. “He asked for a meeting. We discussed current affairs and tasks which we think should be taken into account when overcoming the crisis in Ukraine. This is something for the Ukrainians themselves to do,” he said.

Replying to a question about the level of Russia’s representation at the summit, Lavrov said that about a third of the delegations in The Hague were not at the top level and the composition of the Russian delegation was not related to the situation in Ukraine.

The decision that the Russian delegation to the summit would be headed by the minister of foreign affairs was made for pragmatic reasons, Lavrov said.

“As for the composition of the participants in the Nuclear Security Summit, I think about a third of 56 delegations are not represented at the top level. All of them have their own reasons for that,” he said.

“In our case, this is not related in any way to the developments in Ukraine. The decision that the Russian delegation would be headed by the minister of foreign affairs was made six months ago, and it was prompted by pragmatic considerations only,” Lavrov said.

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