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Diplomatic exit? Ukraine players converge on paris

Ukraine
BY LORI HINNANT
ASSOCIATED PRESS

PARIS (AP) -- Top diplomats from the major players trying to find an end to the crisis in Ukraine are gathering in Paris on Wednesday as tensions simmered over the Russian military takeover of the strategic Crimean Peninsula.

The envoys from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Britain and France are not necessarily all at the same table, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said everyone has been working non-stop for a diplomatic solution over tensions in Ukraine.

"We have a principle of firmness but at the same time of searching for dialogue," Fabius said as he stood alongside his Ukrainian counterpart, making his first trip abroad in the new post.

Russia took over Crimea on Saturday, placing troops around its ferry, military bases and border posts.

"Today the Ukrainian future will be decided," Andriy Deshchytsia, Ukraine's foreign minister, said of the meetings in Paris. "We want to keep neighborly relations with the Russian people. We want to settle this peacefully."

Wednesday's gathering, originally scheduled to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, came after Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to step back from the brink of war, but the crisis is far from resolved.

Ukraine is near bankruptcy, and the European Union's executive arm was supposed to decide Wednesday on a package of support measures to add to the $1 billion energy subsidy package aid promised by the U.S. Russian troops remain.

Putin does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership in Kiev, which in turn accuses Russia of a military invasion in Crimea.

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