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US slams Russian blocking of OSCE mission to Ukraine

The United States Thursday called it "deeply disappointing" that Russia blocked for the third time this week the sending of a full OSCE observer mission to Ukraine. US ambassador Daniel Baer said in a speech to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe late Wednesday, released Thursday, that there was "again, only one objection in the room". He said this was "deeply disappointing, particularly given the Russian Federation's continuing statements ... that they support and see the urgency of getting monitors on the ground", he said.

Ukraine to withdraw from Russian-led CIS: security chief

Ukraine's security chief said on Wednesday that Kiev had decided to withdraw from the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) alliance that replaced the Soviet Union. "A decision was taken... to begin the process of withdrawing from the CIS," Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council chief Andriy Parubiy told a televised press conference. zak/mfp

OSCE mission to Ukraine must be agreed in 24 hours: German foreign minister

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday he had told his Russian counterpart that a mandate for a mission by Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers to Ukraine must be agreed within 24 hours. Steinmeier told reporters he had spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Chairman of the OSCE and that they had overcome differences on the number of staff to be sent but still had to agree on the regions to be visited.

Palestinians seek investors to drill for oil in West Bank, but project remains in question

The Palestinian Authority has announced plans to explore for oil in the West Bank, throwing a new element of uncertainty into troubled U.S.-backed peace efforts. Mohammed Mustafa, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said Tuesday the Palestinians were seeking proposals from international firms to help explore and develop oil in the northern West Bank. However, there was no word on whether Israel has agreed to the plan.

UK suspends military cooperation with Russia

Britain will suspend all bilateral military cooperation with Russia after it signed a treaty making Crimea a Russian territory, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday. "We have suspended all such cooperation," Hague told parliament, saying a technical cooperation agreement and joint naval exercises with Russia, France, Britain and the United States had been put on hold. ar-gj/mfp

Ukraine calls for urgent OSCE observers to southeast

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called Sunday for foreign observers from the OSCE to be sent "urgently" to the east and south of the country as Crimea threatened to secede and join Russia. In a statement, the Kiev government said it had "asked that the OSCE urgently send a monitoring mission to Ukraine." "Their mandate should include the east and south of Ukraine, including Crimea," Yatsenyuk added in the statement, as the Black Sea peninsula voted in a referendum widely expected to favour its split from Ukraine and attachment to Russia.

Merkel wants more observers in Ukraine, Putin agrees: German government

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin more Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers should be sent to Ukraine, a plan he welcomed, Merkel's spokesman said on Sunday. "The chancellor proposed swiftly expanding the existing OSCE presence in Ukraine and sending a bigger number of observers into hot spots, especially in East Ukraine," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement about a phone call between the two leaders.

Russia now backs idea of OSCE mission for Ukraine: Swiss chairman

By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA (Reuters) - Russia has for the first time backed the idea of deploying an OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, including Crimea, the chairman of the European rights and security watchdog said on Thursday, calling it a possible "big step forward". The development was announced a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis in Ukraine with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, whose country chairs the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Russia now backs idea of OSCE mission for Ukraine: Swiss chair

VIENNA (Reuters) - Russia has voiced support for the deployment of an OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, including Crimea, the chairman of the European security group said on Thursday, calling this a possible "big step forward." "The Russian Federation supported the idea of a rapid approval and rapid deployment of a special monitoring mission for Ukraine," Thomas Greminger, Switzerland's ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters after a meeting of OSCE envoys in Vienna.

OSCE mission to visit east Ukraine after denied Crimea access

VIENNA (Reuters) - After repeatedly being refused entry to Crimea, an unarmed OSCE military observer mission will instead go to other parts of Ukraine in the coming days, including the country's east, the European security body said on Tuesday. Seventeen member states of the 57-nation Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the United States, have so far confirmed they will take part in the changed mission requested by Ukraine, an OSCE spokesman said.
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