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MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, who arrived in Moscow on Sunday, has met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov to discuss relations between Russia and the United States.
On Monday afternoon, Nuland will also meet Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin. The meeting will focus on ways to establish dialogue between the authorities in Kiev and representatives of east Ukraine’s self-proclaimed republics, Karasin told TASS.
"We will discuss the settlement process [in Ukraine] and, first of all, implementation of the Minsk agreements and establishment of dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk," he said.
The US State Department said Nuland’s visit to Russia was aimed at discussing next steps in the implementation of Ukraine ceasefire agreements signed in Minsk, Belarus, in February. It follows her May 14-16 visit to Kiev, Ukraine, and US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meetings in Sochi with the Russian leadership on May 12.
In Kiev, Nuland met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and President Petro Poroshenko. "Coordinating our actions with the United States is vitally important," Poroshenko said after talks.
Following her trip to the Ukrainian capital, Nuland said Washington was willing to expand its participation in securing fulfilment of the Minsk agreements, together with the European Union and the "Normandy format" countries - Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France - which helped broker the truce.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov confirmed in a TASS interview before Nuland’s statement that the United States was displaying an interest not only in the "Normandy format" but also in the Contact Group on the Ukraine crisis that includes senior representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"I spent a lot of time studying the speeches, statements, doing an analysis of what is said in contacts with us and our representatives behind closed doors," he said. "I have long noticed the U.S. side’s desire to work in these formats, but we see no reason and sense in it.
"The question is therefore rhetorical, and the situation is currently not considered this way," Ryabkov added.
Nuland’s visit is the second trip by a senior US official to Russia over the past week. On May 12, US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"The two sides exchanged views on virtually all key issues of the current international agenda," Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said after the meetings, noting that "the Ukrainian issue was high on the agenda".