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Asia-Pacific

Hollande to meet Putin in Moscow to discuss Ukraine crisis

media French President François Hollande (L) and Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev at the opening of the Sorbonne-Kazakhstan Insititute in Almaty on Friday AFP

French President François Hollande is to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin on an unscheduled stopover in Moscow in an attempt to “deescalate” the Ukraine crisis. Hollande’s office proposed the meeting during the French president’s two-day visit to Kazakhstan.

The meeting is expected to take place at Moscow airport as Hollande returns from Kazakhstan, where he vowed to work for a “deescalation” of the crisis in Ukraine, first “verbal” and then “military”.

The US and European Union have slapped sanctions on Russia, which has annexed Crimea and is accused of backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, and France has refused to deliver two Mistral warships that it has built for Russia until a ceasefire is in place.

The crisis poses "serious threats to the economy of the entire region", Hollande said on Friday at a joint press conference with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev called for an end to the sanctions on Moscow and warned Western powers “not to anger Russia”.

“All international rights have been violated” during the Ukraine crisis but “ultimatums” are “not the best solution”, he said, addingh “I don’t think we should return to a Cold War”.

Putin and Nazarbayev spoke by phone on Friday, the Kremlin said.

They discussed "current questions on the international and regional agenda" and a meeting of the leadership of the Eurasian Economic Union, the economic bloc launched by Putin, due to take place in Moscow in late December.

Hollande last met Putin on 15 November on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Australia.

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