Germany, Russia want to 'avoid escalation' in Ukraine: Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks next to OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria (L) during a visit to the OECD headquarters in Paris on February 19, 2014. (AFP PHOTO ERIC PIERMONT)

PARIS: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two had agreed "to do everything to avoid an escalation of violence" in Ukraine.

Merkel said she had "informed" Putin of plans to send the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France to Kiev on Thursday morning.

"We have decided to stay in very close contact with Russia," she said, adding that "everything must be done to launch a political process" in Ukraine.

Merkel was speaking alongside French President Francois Hollande and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso after talks in Paris.

Barroso said he had spoken to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and urged him to engage in a "sincere and constructive political dialogue with the opposition".

He said he had told Yanukovych that "violence is not the answer" to Ukraine's political crisis.

"I have hope that president Yanukovych can have a real answer to these very strong messages from the European Union," Barroso said.





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