Kerry: Now is "Critical Moment" for Ukraine Conflict
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says now is a "critical moment" for Russia and pro-Russia separatists to fulfill a peace deal meant to end violence in eastern Ukraine.
Kerry made the comment in Antalya, Turkey, where he met Wednesday with NATO foreign ministers.
Kerry's comments follow meetings Tuesday with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian resort city of Sochi. Kerry in Russia said there is "no substitute" for direct talks with key decision makers on complex global issues such as the conflicts in Ukraine and in Syria.
Kerry's trip came at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow have plummeted to post-Cold War lows amid the disagreements over Ukraine and Syria, and the trip appeared designed as much to maintain contact as anything else.
Also Tuesday, a report was released based on information compiled by slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov that said at least 220 Russian soldiers have died in fighting in southeastern Ukraine over the past year.
Moscow has repeatedly denied claims it is involved in the conflict.
French President Hollande Makes Visit to Former Colony Haiti
French President Francois Hollande visited Haiti Tuesday and pledged to help the impoverished Caribbean nation recover from the 2010 earthquake that left much of the island in ruins.
The trip is the first official state visit by a French president to Haiti, the former crown jewel of French colonialism until 1804, when it became the world's first independent black republic after a slave revolt.
But Haiti is now the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, due in part to an 1825 agreement that forced Haiti to pay France compensation for land and slaves lost in the rebellion - a sum now estimated to be as much as $19 billion.
A small crowd gathered outside the Champ de Mars to protest Mr. Hollande's trip, demanding France return the money it forced Haiti to pay.
During a stopover on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe earlier this week, Mr. Hollande admitted that France owed Haiti a "debt," but officials later insisted he was referring to a "moral" debt, instead of a financial one.