Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, on April 16-17 to participate in bilateral meetings and a multilateral meeting among the United States, Ukraine, Russia, and the European Union to discuss the ongoing situation in and around Ukraine.
At the conclusion of the discussions, Secretary Kerry said, "...Diplomacy requires willing partners, and I...want to thank Minister Deshchytsia and also Minister Lavrov for their willing work in the course of today, their readiness to engage in a constructive dialogue. We worked hard, and we worked in good faith, in order to try to narrow what are real differences, some of them significant, and to find a way forward for the people of Ukraine that helps them in achieving their aspiration to live in a stable, peaceful, and unified democracy."
During the meeting in Geneva, the participants agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine and restore security for all citizens. In a joint press availability with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, Secretary Kerry outlined several of these initial steps. The Secretary said, "...The parties agreed today that all sides must refrain from the use of violence, intimidation, or provocative actions. And we strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism, and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism."
The Secretary continued, "We agreed today that all illegal armed groups must be disarmed, that all illegally seized buildings must be returned to their legitimate owners, and all illegally occupied streets, squares, and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.
"The Government of Ukraine itself affirmed, and again today, that it will grant amnesty to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrender weapons, with the exception of those people who are found guilty of capital offenses.
"We also agreed -- and I think this is a key part of what was focused on today -- we wanted to find concrete steps, not just words, but concrete steps that could be acted on immediately in order to defuse the situation. And so we agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, which is already on the ground, whose mission has already been defined and granted, that they undertake a special role in assisting Ukrainian authorities in local communities in the immediate implementation of the de-escalation measures, that they will do so wherever they are needed the most in the coming days. That means beginning immediately."
The Secretary concluded, "The Ukrainian Government has exhibited extraordinary patience and fortitude in the face of enormous challenges and pressure. They have asked their people to restrain themselves. They have purposefully assumed a nonviolent posture in the face of challenges that might have invited others to engage in violence. And the Ukrainian people now deserve a right to choose their own future. The international community remains firmly by their side as they travel the difficult, democratic path to prosperity and to peace."
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