Britain cautiously welcome Ukraine agreement

London, April 19: British Foreign Secretary William Hague Friday offered his “cautious welcome” to the agreement reached at the four-way Geneva talks over the Ukraine crisis Thursday.

“Yesterday’s agreement was at the top end of our expectations. We should certainly welcome it, but it should be a cautious welcome. The next steps are to see implementation, and we need to see progress quickly over the next few days,” Xinhua quoted Hague as saying in a statement.

He said Britain will “do everything possible” to help Russia implement these decisions, including through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission.

Noting that “it is possible to make progress together”, the foreign secretary stressed that Ukraine should be able to be a bridge between East and West.

“It should be able to trade with Europe whilst maintaining a good relationship with Russia. And this diplomatic process is working to give Ukraine these rights, just like any other country,” he added.

Describing the common defence of the NATO alliance as “rock solid”, Hague said, “we stand ready in the European Union, and through the USA, to impose additional sanctions should that become necessary”.

“We are preparing more far-reaching sanctions in the case of further provocations, and must be clear that the consequences of their actions can be very expensive for Russia,” he continued.

On Thursday, the US, Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union concluded Geneva talks on Ukraine after reaching an agreement, calling for an immediate halt of violence in Ukraine and practical steps to de- escalate the tension.

The statement said all sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions as part of initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens in the region.

IANS