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Kazakhstan ready to host East Ukraine reconciliation talks if sides agree - diplomat

The issue was raised during a meeting between Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and US President Donald Trump

UN, January 20. /TASS/. Kazakhstan is ready to organize talks on East Ukraine reconciliation in its capital Astana if the parties to the conflict agree, Kazakhstan’s UN envoy Kairat Umarov said on Friday, commenting on the possibility of relocating the talks, currently held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Answering to a question from TASS, the diplomat said the issue was raised during a meeting between Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and US President Donald Trump earlier this week.

According to Umarov, the idea of selecting another venue emerged "because the Minsk process has stalled."

"Possibly, it needs a fresh start which can be made in Astana or at any other location, which the participants [of the talks] think is comfortable. The idea is to overcome the stalemate, to try and make progress on the issue," the diplomat said.

When asked whether Astana was ready to organize a meeting on Ukraine, Umarov replied that it was up to the conflict sides to decide.

"No matter what decision they make, we will agree to it. If the players choose Astana, my president will gladly do this [organize the talks]. If not, they are free to select any other capital as a venue. The only thing that we want is to see is progress on this issue," he said.

He stressed that Astana’s readiness to host reconciliation talks was in no way an attempt to disrupt the negotiations in Minsk.

"The idea is to try and re-launch further negotiations, which are stalled at present. We would like to see any kind of solution [to the conflict]," the Kazakh envoy said.

The issue of moving negotiations on Donbass from Minsk to another place was raised at a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev during Nazarbayev’s visit to Washington on January 16. According to the Kazakh leader, the two presidents noted that the current Minsk process had stalled and a new one is required. The idea to move the talks from Minsk was proposed by Trump, Nazarbayev said.

The Kremlin believes that the commitment to the Minsk agreements is more important than the choice of a venue, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.