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    Four-way Ukraine Talks Conclude with De-escalation Plan

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, and United States have agreed on a set of measures to ease the conflict in Ukraine.

    Kerry spoke Thursday in Geneva after hours of talks among the four parties. He said some of the measures agreed to include disarmament of all illegally armed groups and amnesty for all protesters who peacefully vacate occupied buildings, aside from those found guilty of capital offenses.

    Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who are already in Ukraine, will be immediately engaged in putting the de-escalation measures into place.

    Kerry warned, however, that so far these plans are just "words on paper" and success will depend on how they are carried out.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke separately following the talks. He said the four parties will work to establish a broad national dialogue to ensure protection of Ukrainians' rights.

    Secretary Kerry met separately with Lavrov, Ukraine's foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia, and the European Union's Catherine Ashton before the group meeting started.



    In an interview Wednesday with CBS television, U.S. President Barack Obama said there will be consequences each time Russia takes steps to destabilize Ukraine and violates its sovereignty. But Mr. Obama said he is convinced Russia is not looking for a war.

    Moscow has said it has the right to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. It accuses the new Ukrainian leadership of being anti-Russian and anti-Semitic and of threatening the rights of pro-Russians.

    But senior U.N. human rights official Ivan Simonvic told the Security Council Wednesday that during two trips to Ukraine in March, his team found no widespread attacks against ethnic-Russians.

    Moscow calls the U.N. report biased and unfounded.



    U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power dismissed the Russian criticism, saying there is substantial evidence of Russian involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. She called it a well-orchestrated professional campaign of incitement and sabotage.

    Masked pro-Russians seized armored vehicles from the Ukrainian army Wednesday near Slovyansk. The Ukrainian troops did not resist. There are reports of some Ukrainian soldiers switching sides when confronted by the pro-Russians.

    Russian speakers have taken over Ukrainian government buildings in nearly a dozen eastern towns and cities. The Ukrainian army has launched what it calls an anti-terrorist operation to retake the buildings, but it is unclear how much fighting is actually taking place.

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