Kery, Lavrov in 'Very Constructive' Talks on Ukraine
No decision on Ukraine's future could be taken without Kiev's involvement, US State Secretary John Kerry told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov has however ruled out Russia's recognition of the leadership in Kiev, which he once again described as "fascists", despite describing describing the conversation as "very constructive".
After four hours of talks between the two politicians, which Kerry described as "frank", no progress was made on dealing with the standoff between Russia and Ukraine.
At the meeting in Paris Kerry made clear that the US still considered Crimea's incorporation into Russia to be "illegal and illegitimate," the BBC quoted him as saying. Kerry voiced his concern over the gathering of Russian armed forces near Ukraine.
He nevertheless admitted Russian troops built up on the Ukrainian border could not be forced to pull back as they were on Russia's territory and therefore under Russia's sovereign control.
Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov, on the other hand, placed demands for a neutral and federal Ukraine which, in his words, should prepare a new constitution.
Lavrov's words thus resembled earlier suggestions made by Moscow that the government in Kiev should take steps toward Ukraine's federalization and that it should not join NATO.
He tried to ease tensions by asserting no plans for invasion of Ukraine have been made in Moscow.
Kerry and Lavrov met short after US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke over the phone late on Friday.
As a result, Kerry's flight from Saudi Arabia to the US was diverted to Paris.
Negotiations over Crimea's breakaway from Ukraine and annexation to Russia have so far yielded no results, but improvements have been reported in Russia-US dialogue over the issue.
On March 16, the Crimean peninsula voted to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, in a move condemned by Ukraine and the West.