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Washington rules out Kerry’s meeting with Ukraine’s self-defence militias

January 31, 2015, 3:32 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
In Kiev, Kerry will have talks with the country’s president, prime minister, foreign minister and members of the parliament, before traveling to Germany on February 6
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WASHINGTON, January 31. /TASS/. US Secretary of State John Kerry is not planning to meet with the representatives of the eastern Ukrainian self-defence militias during his trip to the country next week, US Department of State Spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Friday.

"We don’t have any plans for that, no," Psaki said when asked if by any chance Kerry, who is due to arrive in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on February 5 for talks with the country’s leadership, could have such a meeting.

In Kiev, Kerry will have talks with the country’s president, prime minister, foreign minister and members of the parliament, before traveling to Germany on February 6.

The negotiations in Kiev will focus on the "progress" the Ukrainian authorities have already made and which needs to be continued over the coming months to "de-escalate the situation on the ground," Psaki said.

Psaki said the US has been providing a range of material equipment to the Ukrainians and confirmed that "the bar is lethal assistance," which Washington obviously has not made the decision to provide. She said the "focus remains on nonlethal assistance."

Speaking on Poland’s plans to sell arms to Ukraine, Psaki said "every country makes their own decisions," adding that "I’m sure we’re in touch with our counterparts in Poland."

During the briefing, the reporters noted that the situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine deteriorated in the last 24 hours. In this context, Psaki mentioned the attack on Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region, and the shelling of a cultural center in Donetsk.

Psaki said Washington condemns the violence and calls for "a full and transparent investigation," while adding that it’s "too early to determine responsibility for the shelling."

Speaking on whether it’s possible that the militias are shelling themselves, Psaki said: "There’s a lot happening on the ground. We’re not - we don’t have that much visibility, so we just like to see investigations take place. And obviously, as you know, we encourage all sides to abide by the Minsk protocols."

In comments to the forthcoming talks in Minsk, Psaki said both self-defence militias and Kiev accuse each other of a failure to attend the negotiations. "We certainly encourage and hope that these talks will continue," she added.

Psaki said the United States "is one of the most prominent supporters and backers of a peace process" in Ukraine. "I think many of the parties want to see a resolution here, so we’re open to continuing to discuss what the best format is," she said.

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