Vladimir Putin meets Ukraine president-elect Petro Poroshenko

Friday 06 June 2014 21.53
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Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko during the D-Day commemorations in France
Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko during the D-Day commemorations in France
Russia's President Vladimir Putin walks past the French honour guard
Russia's President Vladimir Putin walks past the French honour guard

The leaders of Russia and Ukraine have held their first talks today since Moscow annexed Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held 15 minutes of talks with Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko before a lunch of world leaders at a ceremony to mark D-Day landings in June 1944.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel brought together President Putin and Mr Poroshenko for a 15-minute meeting before they joined other dignitaries for lunch.

The meeting was the culmination of weeks of secret diplomacy by French officials to try to break the ice in the most serious European security crisis since the end of the Cold War.

Mr Putin later had an equally short "informal" talk with US President Barack Obama, the White House said.

Mr Hollande's office said Mr Putin and Mr Poroshenko shook hands and agreed that detailed talks on a ceasefire between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine would begin within a few days.

They also discussed steps such as Russian recognition of Mr Poroshenko's election as well as economic relations.

Mr Poroshenko was photographed looking unsmiling and earnest as he stood with Mr Putin and Ms Merkel.

"It was a normal, serious exchange between two leaders," an official in Mr Hollande's office said.

"This marks tentative progress which he (Hollande) welcomes, particularly given this occasion so symbolic for peace."

In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said the two leaders urged a "speedy end to the bloodshed in south-eastern Ukraine as well as to fighting on both sides.

"It was confirmed that there is no other alternative to resolve the situation than through peaceful political means," the spokesman said.