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U.S. Wants 'Concrete Evidence' Russia Is Serious About Diplomacy

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The United States welcomes further talks on the Ukraine crisis but first wants to see “concrete evidence” that Russia is serious about diplomacy, the State Department said Monday.

The United States wants Russia to halt military advances in Ukraine, stop trying to annex the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine and end “provocative steps” to make room for diplomacy, said Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman.

Secretary of State John Kerry outlined those steps when he spoke to his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on Saturday, Psaki said. Kerry is still waiting for a response, she said.

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Crimea will hold a referendum Sunday on whether to leave Ukraine and join Russia. The United States has said that such a vote would violate Ukraine’s Constitution and international law.

“Russia needs to avail itself of the opportunity here to work with international partners and the government of Ukraine to resolve this issue diplomatically and peacefully,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters Monday.

Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, will visit the White House on Wednesday and address the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. Yatsenyuk was installed after Ukraine ousted its pro-Russia government in late February.

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