Kerry, Lavrov to meet in Paris with Ukraine, Syria on agenda

WASHINGTON DC, USA – US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov next week in Paris with issues from Ukraine to Syria set to top the agenda.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the two men would meet in the French capital, after Kerry first attends talks in Cairo on Sunday, October 12, on rebuilding the Gaza Strip following the 50-day war with Israel.

The meeting will come amid efforts by Western countries to maintain a September 5 ceasefire deal in Ukraine which has been systematically breached in the country's east.

Kerry warned again Wednesday, October 8, that if Moscow does not withdraw its forces from eastern Ukraine more US and EU sanctions could follow.

"We agree on the need for Russia to withdraw its forces immediately from Ukraine, to end its material support for separatists and to meet its commitments under the Minsk ceasefire," Kerry said after meeting with his British counterpart Philip Hammond.

"Russia's actions over the past months have challenged the most basic principles of our international system," the top US diplomat insisted.

"Borders cannot and should not be redrawn at the barrel of a gun. And people have a right in their own country within their sovereign borders to determine their own future."

The United States and European Union have already slapped a range of sanctions on Moscow for its annexation of the southern Ukraine peninsula of Crimea, and its backing of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

"Together with the G-7, our European partners and other allies, we have made it clear that we are prepared to do even more to ensure that the international order prevails," Kerry warned.

After his trip to Paris, the top US diplomat will then travel to Vienna to meet with his Iranian counterpart to discuss Tehran's nuclear program. –