Germany proposes joint U.S., EU, Russia trip to Ukraine

by Reuters
Friday, 25 April 2014 07:00 GMT

BERLIN, April 25 (Reuters) - The United States, the European Union and Russia should make a joint high-level trip to hotspots in Ukraine with local officials to signal political backing to the April 17 Geneva agreement, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says.

U.S. officials are growing increasingly impatient with what they describe as Russia's failure to live up to that agreement, which was an attempt to try to calm the crisis in Ukraine.

In a letter to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Steinmeier said the international agreement to defuse tension in Washington needs "visible political backing".

He said that backing could, for example, be displayed "with a joint high-level trip with representatives from all four to Kiev, the eastern and western parts of the country".

Steinmeier sent the letter to Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, whose country chairs the OSCE. Excerpts were published in Friday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, which said copies were also sent to Washington, Moscow, Brussels and Kiev.

"It is important to achieve visible changes quickly for the population," Steinmeier wrote.

Under the accord signed by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU in Geneva, illegal armed groups were supposed to disarm and go home, including the rebels occupying about a dozen buildings in the largely Russian-speaking east.

Washington accuses Moscow of sending agents to coordinate the unrest in the east. Russia denies it is behind the uprising and says the separatists are responding spontaneously to hostility from Kiev. (Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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