US and Russia agree to keep talking after meeting on Ukraine

US and Russia agree to keep talking after meeting on Ukraine

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GENEVA: Top diplomats from the United States and Russia made no major breakthrough in talks on Ukraine on Friday, but agreed to continue talks to resolve a crisis that has raised fears of a military conflict.

After talks in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned of a “swift and severe” response if Russia invaded Ukraine after massing troops near its border, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow Still awaiting assurance of written response to security request.

But both said they were open to further dialogue, with Blinken seeing reason to hope that shared security issues could be resolved.

“Based on the conversations we ve had — the extensive conversations — over the past week and today here in Geneva I think there are grounds for and a means to address some of the mutual concerns that we have about security,” Blinken said.

He described the talks as “frank and substantive” and told reporters that Russia now faced a choice.

“It can choose the path of diplomacy that can lead to peace and security, or the path that will lead only to conflict, severe consequences and international condemnation,” Blinken said, adding that diplomacy would be preferable.

“We ve been clear – if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine s border, that s a renewed invasion. It will be met with swift, severe and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies.”

Lavrov said the ball was on the court in Washington.

He described the meeting as open and useful, and said Moscow would know if the talks were on track once it received a written response to its comprehensive security demands from the United States.

“I can t tell you if we re on the right track or the wrong track. We ll understand this when we receive the American response on paper to all the points in our proposal,” Lavrov said.

Russia s demands include a halt to NATO s eastward expansion and a pledge that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the Western military alliance.

Blinken said he expected to share with Russia “our concerns and ideas in more detail and in writing next week” and said he and Lavrov had “agreed to further discussions after that”.

Russia and the United States could hold another meeting next month to discuss Moscow s demands for security guarantees, Russia s RIA news agency quoted a source in the Russian delegation as saying.

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