• US hopes Russia tensions resolved before G20 summit

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    CAIRNS: The United States said on Sunday it hoped Russia would address concerns about its actions in Ukraine ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) November leaders’ summit, or Moscow risked further economic isolation.

    US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said following a two-day meeting of G20 finance chiefs “the goal between now and November is for this to be resolved so that these issues are on a path towards improvement.”

    “In the event that there’s a meeting and the situation is not better, I think President Putin will hear directly what he is hearing through economic sanctions and other expressions now, which is that Russia’s actions are unacceptable,” Lew said.

    “The goal here is to resolve the situation and for Russia to take a step to work this out on a diplomatic basis so that Ukraine can get back to the business of healing itself and growing its economy,” he added.

    Opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attendance at the summit in Brisbane intensified after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 onboard, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

    Kiev and the West have accused separatists of downing it with a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia—a charge Moscow denies.

    Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey, who chaired the G20 finance meeting in the northern city of Cairns, said on Saturday the consensus was that Russia should attend to help address the geo-political tensions.

    Lew said the US and Europe were prepared to keep working together on sanctions “as long as Russia continues to threaten Ukraine’s sovereignty, to participate directly or indirectly in the military actions there.”

    A fragile European-brokered ceasefire sealed on September 5 has overall dramatically scaled back the fighting across industrial eastern Ukraine.

    But sometimes-deadly shelling and gunfire is reported almost daily around the flashpoint city of Donetsk.

    Face-to-face talks aimed at finding a way to end the war began on Friday in the Belarussian capital Minsk, trying to build on the ragged ceasefire.

    The two sides signed a memorandum early Saturday agreeing to stop fighting and create a 30-kilometre (19-mile) demilitarized zone in order to bring lasting peace to the east of the country.

    AFP

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