UN chief urges immediate talks on Ukraine crisis

Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly urged an immediate resumption of "constructive dialogue" among all parties to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, while the Security Council called its first meeting on the matter since the Crimea region voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday that Ban has intensified his diplomatic efforts and has had high-level contacts with the main parties involved as well as "all those with interest."

Dujarric said the U.N. chief has been watching the latest developments, including Sunday's referendum on Crimea and Russia's announcement that it is annexing the strategic peninsula, "with mounting concern."

The spokesman reiterated Ban's call on all parties to avoid "hasty actions" and intensify efforts to solve the crisis based on the U.N. Charter's principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity.

The president of the U.N. Security Council announced late Tuesday that the council will hold a public meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday afternoon — its eighth since Feb. 28 — to hear briefings by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic on their recent visits to Ukraine.

On Saturday, Russia vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution that would have declared Sunday's referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia illegal. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the referendum, which overwhelmingly supported annexation, legal and signed a treaty Tuesday for the strategic Black Sea region to become part of Russia.

General Assembly President John Ashe sent invitations Tuesday to U.N. members to attend a plenary meeting at Ukraine's request on Thursday, but his office later sent out an announcement that the meeting has been postponed "until further notice."

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