Kremlin rejects idea of U.S. role in Ukraine conflict talks

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov waits before a welcoming ceremony attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday rejected the idea of involving the United States in talks to help resolve the conflict between the Kiev government and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was no support for the idea of Washington joining the Normandy Format talks to settle the conflict, which involves Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.

A diplomatic breakthrough last week potentially opened the way for an international summit between the countries aimed at finding a way to end the fighting.

Peskov did say, however, that the U.S. could use its influence in Ukraine, reacting to comments by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko who said it would not be possible to resolve the Ukrainian conflict without U.S. participation.

“The viewpoint that the U.S. must eventually join this (Normandy) format has found no support,” Peskov told reporters.

“Nevertheless, the U.S. can certainly use its influence in Kiev in order to ensure that Ukraine meets its obligations under the Minsk accord as soon as possible,” he added, referring to a 2015 peace agreement which remains to be fully implemented.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth,; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Ed Osmond