June 6, 2014 / 12:02 PM / in 5 years

Putin, Ukraine's Poroshenko speak at D-Day event

Ukraine president-elect Petro Poroshenko (2nd L), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk after a group photo during the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Benouville, France June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

BENOUVILLE France (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko on Friday on the sidelines of D-Day commemorations in France as they met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Reuters reporter said.

Western officials are hoping that informal contacts between Putin and Poroshenko during the one-day event can help ease tensions over Ukraine’s future, after Russia seized and annexed the Crimea region following the ouster of a pro-Russian president in Kiev in February.

Putin, Poroshenko and Merkel talked together as they walked into the Chateau de Benouville, in Normandy, where world leaders had lunch together, the Reuters reporter said.

Hollande invited Poroshenko as his personal guest to the ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, saying the event should be used to “serve the purposes of peace”.

The Reuters reporter did not, however, see any handshake between the two men. French diplomats said before the event they would see a handshake as tacit acknowledgement by Putin that he recognizes Poroshenko’s legitimacy the day before he is sworn in, opening the door for dialogue.

Reporting by Jeff Mason in Benouville; writing by Mark John; Editing by Paul Taylor

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