Russia, EU, Ukraine, U.S. to meet in Geneva next week for talks

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia, the United States, Ukraine and the European Union will hold talks next Thursday in Geneva to try to negotiate an end to the crisis in Ukraine, EU diplomats said.

Moscow has said it wants to know more about the agenda for such a meeting, and while no more details were immediately available, EU diplomats said it will now go ahead.

The EU’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton will brief most of the bloc’s foreign ministers on the talks on Monday, said the three diplomats, who declined to be named.

“We need to keep the channel for dialogue open, even as we consider further sanctions,” one diplomat said. “The solution to the crisis is through negotiation.”

Russia, which made Ukraine and the West furious by annexing Crimea last month, does not want to be forced into talks with the interim government in Kiev because of that administration’s role in ousting Moscow-allied President Viktor Yanukovich in what Moscow called an armed, Western-encouraged coup.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by telephone this week that four-way talks must focus on fostering dialogue among Ukrainians and not on bilateral relations among the participants.

Reporting by Robin Emmott and Tom Korkemeier; Editing by Toby Chopra