Putin, Austrian President Fischer call for extension of ceasefire in Ukraine

VIENNA, June 24 (Xinhua) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer called here on Tuesday for extension of a 7-day ceasefire in Ukraine to make more time for a peaceful resolution.

Putin told a press conference after meeting with Fischer that he was in favor of diplomatic solutions to the conflict, and supported an extension of the ceasefire called for by Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko, that so-called pro-Russian separatists have now also agreed to.

In addition, Putin spoke out against the disarmament of the separatists under international pressure, saying that the Ukrainian nationalist Right Sector had also not been disarmed. In the vacuum of what he called the illegal toppling of the Yanukovych regime both sides asserted their power, and he said it could not be expected that either should suddenly give up their position.

Fischer also said he hoped for an extension to the 7-day ceasefire, saying more time was needed. He also spoke out against sanctions toward Russia, saying they were not an effective means of resolving a dispute except in extreme cases, and called for more dialogue.

Fischer said a key point of disagreement between the two parties was the Crimea issue, the Russians arguing in favor of its move there and using Kosovo as an example for their position, while Fischer claims the comparison was not entirely applicable.

In light of criticism on the meeting from outside, he said Austria was always open to holding dialogue with its partner countries, but that it also supported the European Union position, which foremost is that it is a peace project, and stressed the need to keep communication channels open even in difficult times.

Putin acknowledged the long-held Austro-Russian relations, the increases in the trade balance, and the importance of large cooperative projects such as the South Stream pipeline.

The two sides will continue talks into the evening.