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Russia, US officials hold talks on Ukraine crisis: Source

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A picture taken on December 22, 2015 shows a Ukrainian serviceman patrolling the outskirts of the Pavlopil village in the restive Donetsk region. ©AFP

Senior officials from Russia and the United States have reportedly held a closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, which has been the scene of fighting between Kiev’s troops pro-Moscow forces.

US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and top Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov met near the city of Kaliningrad in Russia’s westernmost outpost to look for a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, AFP quoted a source familiar with the situation as saying on Friday.

“The meeting is closed to the media. The topic is Ukraine,” said the source, adding that the meeting took place on the Russian soil as Surkov is not allowed to travel to the EU or the US due to the Western bans imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

The meetings came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama held talks on the issue by phone.

The White House said after the phone conversation that the US had insisted on its previous positions regarding the role of Russia in Ukraine, urging Moscow to end alleged support for pro-Moscow forces operating against Kiev.

The Kremlin, however, accused Kiev of not doing enough to end the conflict as it ignores demands for engaging in a dialogue with pro-Moscow forces in the east.

Ukrainian tanks move near Mariupol, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, October 21, 2015. ©AP

The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed and more than 20,000 injured in the conflict in Ukraine since April 2014.

A truce agreement reached between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the Belorussian capital of Minsk in February 2015 significantly reduced fighting, but sporadic clashes have continued on the front lines.

Kiev, Washington and their Western allies accuse Russia of having a hand in the Ukrainian conflict, an allegation strongly rejected by the Kremlin.

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