PARIS (AFP) - Britain on Wednesday urged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris to kickstart negotiations aimed at peacefully resolving the crisis in the Crimea.
"The goal for today is to bring the Russians into a diplomatic process...at least a start of it," Foreign Secretary William Hague said after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya.
Mr Lavrov was expected in Paris to attend a pre-arranged meeting on Lebanon but it was unclear if he would accept to sit down with Mr Deshchytsya at any point.
Russia does not recognise the government that took power in Ukraine after Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted after three months of pro-European Union protests which left nearly 100 dead.
Russia was not represented on Wednesday at a meeting of signatories to the 1994 Budapest memorandum, an international accord which provided Ukraine with security assurances but no guarantees following the breakup of the Soviet Union and Kiev's decision to give up nuclear weapons.
Mr Deshchytsya told the opening session of the meeting that he would meet Mr Lavrov in whatever forum the Russians found acceptable.
"It is a very decisive and important moment, and we are looking very much forward that we will be also having consultations with Russia, bilaterally and multilaterally," he said.