UN officials meet with Ukraine government

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – A senior U.N. diplomat has arrived in Kiev while Switzerland’s president is in Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin, in a flurry of diplomatic activity seeking to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine.

Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. under-secretary-general for political affairs, met with Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov early on Wednesday. British Foreign Secretary William Hague also arrived in Ukraine to speak with the nation’s leaders.

Swiss president Didier Burkhalter, chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, was scheduled to meet with Putin for discussions on Ukraine and the status of OSCE observers on the ground. Eight international military observers traveling with the OSCE mission who were taken hostage by pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Slovyansk were released on Saturday.

Russia and the West have expressed a desire for the OSCE to play a greater role in defusing the tensions in Ukraine.

The U.S. and European nations have increased diplomatic efforts ahead of Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election, as a pro-Russian insurgency continues to rock the country’s eastern regions. Feltman was in Moscow on Tuesday and met Gennady Gatilov, a deputy foreign minister.

Speaking in a BBC interview, Hague lent his support to the election. He says Ukrainians “cannot be bullied out of having their elections by disorder that is deliberately fomented and coordinated from another country, in this instance Russia.”

In Berlin, a Ukrainian presidential candidate said he was prepared to negotiate a decentralization of power, as pro-Russian insurgents have demanded. But Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate magnate, added that some separatists in the eastern region understand only “the language of force.”

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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