Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced optimism about a resolution of the Ukraine crisis after meeting the country's president-elect. Putin was also positive about informal talks with US President Barack Obama.
After meeting Ukraine's President-elect Petro Poroshenko on Friday, Putin welcomed the new leader's initiatives to stop the violence in two breakaway eastern regions in Ukraine.
"I can only welcome Mr. Poroshenko's position that the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine must be stopped immediately," Putin said after the meeting took place on the sidelines of the 70th anniversary D-Day celebrations in Normandy. "I cannot say for sure how that can be implemented in practical terms, but overall it seemed to me to be the right approach."
Putin did, however, say he was waiting to see Poroshenko - who is to be inaugurated on Saturday - deliver details of how he would bring about the rapprochement and end a crackdown on separatists. "Ukraine must demonstrate its good will," Putin told Russian television. "The repressive operation must be stopped."
'Good chance' of progress
Poroshenko - who won nearly 54.7 percent of the vote in a May 25 election - said he believed that the opening of talks with Russia would lead to results, with further talks with Moscow imminent.
"The dialogue has begun, and that's a good thing," he said on Ukrainian television. "A Russian representative will travel to Ukraine, and we will discuss with him the first steps towards a plan (to resolve) the situation... We have a good chance of implementing it."
The two leaders shook hands and talked for some 15 minutes, with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel present as they spoke.
Recent days have seen tensions mount in eastern Ukraine, with the government confirming on Thursday that it had lost control of three border posts to rebels. One police officer was killed and two others injured on Friday in a mortar attack in Slovyansk.
A 'substantial' chat
Putin also met President Barack Obama on Friday, for informal talks that lasted some 10-15 minutes ahead of a lunch with other world leaders.
While Washington styled the meeting as an informal chat, Putin said they had been "substantial" discussions. Before and after the meeting, the pair's public behavior towards each other was described by media as evasive.
"Putin and Obama spoke for the need to end violence and fighting as quickly as possible," said Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier.
The Obama-Putin meeting came after a gathering in Brussels earlier this week between leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) wealthier nations. The G7 leaders temporarily suspended the G8 grouping, which includes Russia, after Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March.
rc/hc (AFP, AP)