Russia must move to help disarm Ukraine separatists “in the next hours”, Kerry says

World Today

rench Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (R) listens as US Secretary of State John Kerry makes statements to the press

After meeting with France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia should call on separatists in Ukraine to disarm within “the next hours.”

Kerry told reporters in Paris:

“We are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours, literally, that they’re moving to help disarm the separatists, to encourage them to disarm, to call on them to lay down their weapons and to begin to become part of a legitimate political process,”

He added that EU leaders would discuss possible sanctions moves on Russia at their summit in Belgium starting Thursday.

His comments came as diplomats said that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had held her second telephone meeting in as many days with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the fragile ceasefire in Ukraine.

Kerry and Fabius also discussed the progress of Sunni insurgents in Iraq who on Thursday took a town an hour from Baghdad which is home to four natural gas fields.

Fabius told journalists that the situation threatened not just Iraq and the region, but the West as well:

“We have insisted on the very, very difficult situation in Iraq where the ISIL group has shown terrible ferocity and brutality and we are expecting from the Iraqis that they could get united and it’s a necessity, not only for Iraq, but for the whole region because it’s a menace for Iraq, for the region, for Europe and for the U.S. as well.”

Kerry said that the pair also discussed the crisis in Syria and nuclear talks with Iran.