(Adds Putin's quote, changes dateline)
Sergiev Posad, Russia, July 18 Russian President
Vladimir Putin called on Friday for a ceasefire by pro-Russian
separatists and Ukrainian government forces fighting in eastern
Ukraine to allow for negotiations.
Putin said he was in contact with Ukrainian President Petro
Poroshenko after a Boeing 777 passenger airliner came down in an
area under rebel control, killing all 298 people on board, many
of them Dutch citizens.
"Direct talks between the opposing sides must be established
as soon as possible. All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt
fighting and begin peace negotiations," Putin said at a meeting
with Russian Orthodox Church leaders at a monastery Sergiev
Posad, near Moscow.
"It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching
what is happening in eastern Ukraine. It's awful, it's a
Putin, who has blamed the airliner tragedy on Poroshenko for
refusing to extend a shaky ceasefire with rebels in the region,
said he hoped the Ukrainian president would be able to offer a
peaceful way out of the conflict.
Kiev accuses pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the
airliner with help from Russian intelligence representatives.
(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Alissa de
Carbonnel; editing by Ralph Boulton)