UPDATE 1-Merkel and Xi agree Ukraine crisis needs to be solved via dialogue

Sun Mar 9, 2014 10:45pm EDT

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BERLIN, March 9 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed during a telephone conversation on Sunday that the crisis in Ukraine needed to be solved via diplomacy.

"The chancellor explained the situation in Ukraine and efforts to come to a political solution of the conflict," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a written statement.

"The Chinese president was also in favour of finding such a solution through dialogue," the statement said, adding that Xi said the solution needed to be on the basis of international law.

Xi said the Ukraine situation is "very complicated and highly sensitive" and needs to be weighed carefully, according to a statement from China's foreign ministry.

Xi repeated a call for all sides to exercise restraint and find a political solution to prevent the situation from escalating.

China supports mediation efforts and constructive actions by the international community, he said, adding that the German side should continue communicating with all sides in a constructive manner.

China has so far shown little public interest in participating in any financial aid for Ukraine, or becoming involved diplomatically, in line with its low-key approach to many international crises.

But China has also said it would like to continue to develop "friendly cooperation" with Ukraine and that it respects Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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