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Sex assault charges dropped in rare court-martial of U.S. general

By Kelly Twedell FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Reuters) - A U.S. Army general at the center of a rare court-martial of a top military leader was cleared of sexual assault charges on Monday, but admitted mistreating a junior officer during their illicit sexual relationship.

Swede Backstrom to get ice hockey silver medal: IOC

(Reuters) - Swedish ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom will receive an Olympic silver medal despite being forced to miss last month's final in Sochi due to a doping offence, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday. Although the IOC did not confirm at the time that Backstrom had failed a drugs test, Swedish officials pulled him out of the final after being told that he had been shown to be carrying a high level of the stimulant pseudoephedrine (PSE).

U.S. and Russia fail to find way forward on Ukraine

Talks between the United States and Russia in London Friday failed to come up with any new plans to ease ongoing tensions in Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov spent six hours discussing possible steps which could de-escalate the crisis between Ukraine and Russia. Kerry told journalists that he "presented a number of ideas" to Lavrov, but said Russia is "not prepared" to make any decision ahead of Sunday's referendum on whether Crimea should be part of Russia.

Russia says has no plans to invade eastern Ukraine

LONDON (Reuters) - Russia has no plans to invade southeastern Ukraine but the Kremlin will respect the result of the upcoming referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday. Speaking after several hours of talks in London with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Lavrov there was still no common vision with the West over Ukraine and that Russia needed no international structure to help it mediate with Kiev.

Russia warns US against 'hasty' actions on Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday warned US Secretary of State John Kerry against Washington taking "hasty" action or imposing sanctions over Ukraine, in what has escalated into the biggest East-West crisis since the Cold War. In a telephone call, the two men followed up on their talks in Paris and Rome that had failed to lead to an agreement on how to resolve the situation in Ukraine, where Russian troops have taken effective control of Crimea.

Lavrov leaves Paris talks without meeting Ukrainian counterpart: diplomats

PARIS (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left talks on the Ukrainian crisis in Paris on Wednesday without having met his Ukrainian counterpart, Western diplomats said. Lavrov, who earlier held talks with foreign ministers from the United States, France, Germany and Britain, said further discussions on Ukraine would take place "in days to come". "We are all concerned at what it is happening there," he told reporters on leaving the French Foreign Ministry.

EU suggests Iceland can wait and see on membership bid

The EU's ambassador in Reykjavik said Wednesday that Iceland could put its EU membership bid on hold instead of retracting it, publicly contradicting the Icelandic prime minister. Matthias Brinkmann, a German diplomat, mentioned during an interview with Icelandic public broadcaster RUV the "precedent" of Malta, which joined the EU in 2004, after putting its bid on hold while a Euro-sceptic government was in office. "So in a way that is possible, but of course not for an unlimited period of time, that I think is evident," Brinkmann said.

Kerry urges talks with Ukraine in meeting with Russia's Lavrov

KIEV (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged direct talks between Russia and Ukraine during a brief discussion with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, a U.S. official said. It was the first time Kerry and Lavrov have met face to face since Russian troops effectively occupied Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. "The Secretary urged direct talks between Russia and Ukraine," a senior State Department official said of the brief "pull aside" on the sidelines of a conference on Lebanon.

Kerry presses Russian FM to meet Ukrainian counterpart

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday pressed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to hold face-to-face talks with his counterpart from the new Ukrainian government on the Crimea crisis. Kerry, who has worked closely with Lavrov on Syria, made the appeal on the sidelines of an international meeting on Lebanon here. "Secretary Kerry had a brief pull aside discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov after the larger sideline discussion they had with other foreign ministers," a senior State Department official said.

Lavrov accuses Ukraine's new leaders of threatening minorities

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday accused Ukraine's new leaders of attacking minority rights and said that ultra-nationalists control many areas of the ex-Soviet country. "The victors intend to make use of the fruits of their victory to attack human rights and fundamental freedoms... of minorities," Lavrov told the opening of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. "The radicals continue to control the cities" and "limit the rights of linguistic minorities."
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