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German Foreign Minister: Refusing to talk with Russia 'incredible mistake'

Refusing dialogue with Russia on events in Ukraine would be "an incredible mistake", Germany's Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest daily newspaper, on Tuesday.

"The situation in eastern Ukraine, deteriorating in the last few days, and bloody clashes in Odessa show that we are only a few steps away from an open military confrontation," Steinmeier said.

"Conflict around Ukraine has taken an acute form which seemed impossible in Europe before," he said. "The danger of a new division of Europe is still real. We should seek all possible ways to prevent an open civil war in Ukraine."

Steinmeier noted a key role for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in settling the conflict. "None of the EU countries wants military intervention in Ukraine," he said. "The German government shares the same opinion."

Steinmeier said the United States, Russia, the European Union and Ukraine should "sit at the negotiating table in Geneva once again".

"We should talk to each other," he said. "Refusing to hold a dialogue while tension in Ukraine is growing would be an incredible mistake."

It was also a mistake of the latest four-party meeting in Geneva in April that there were no mechanisms to implement decisions reached between Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States.

"That is why we need a follow-up conference," Steinmeier said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Warsaw, 06May14]

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