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Ukraine ready for talks with Russia, condemns referendum

Friday, 7 March 2014 - 4:18pm IST | Agency: Reuters

Ukraine is ready for talks with Russia, but Moscow must first withdraw its troops, abide by international agreements and halt its support for "separatists and terrorists", Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Friday.

He said he had requested a second telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The two premiers spoke on Saturday, the only high level contact between the countries since the crisis began.

"We have declared our readiness to hold talks with the Russian government," he said. He listed a number of conditions, including withdrawing troops and "halting support for the separatists and terrorists in Crimea".

Crimea's pro-Moscow leadership, which took power when Russian troops seized the region last week, announced on Thursday its parliament had voted to join Russia immediately and hold a referendum on the issue on March 16.

"No one in the civilised world will recognise the results of a so-called referendum carried out by these so-called authorities," Yatseniuk said, calling the plans illegal and unconstitutional.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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