Tillerson taps career diplomat as Ukraine special envoy

"Most likely, in July would be a Normandy Four telephone conversation at the level of leaders", Poroshenko said.

In 2014, the European Union and the United States introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions over Moscow's alleged involvement in the internal crisis in Ukraine.

"The North Atlantic Council brings together the NATO Ambassadors from all 29 NATO member states, so it is an important opportunity to deliver messages to NATO capitals about the need to keep up the pressure on Russian Federation, and to support Ukraine", the ex-NATO Secretary General said.

He called the initial dialogue an effort to "explore a framework under which we might begin to have agreement on how to deal with these very complex issues of cyberthreats, cybersecurity, cyberintrusions".

His surprisingly blunt language came just two days after presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had their first face-to-face meeting during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Volker will "coordinate all State Department efforts to bring a resolution to the conflict created when Russian Federation invaded Crimea and later eastern Ukraine", Tillerson spokesman R.C. Hammond told Bloomberg.

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Poroshenko hailed U.S. involvement and reiterated Tillerson's commitment to seeking a negotiated peace deal.

Tillerson's short visit to Kiev comes as the USA explores taking a greater role in a European-led effort to end the three-year conflict in Ukraine's east that has claimed around 10,000 lives.

In that role, Volker will lead US efforts to implement the 2015 Minsk agreement aimed at halting the fighting in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region.

A visit to Ukraine of the North Atlantic Council headed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg must confirm the determination of the allies to keep up the pressure on Russian Federation and to support Ukraine.

Photo Mr. Tillerson, left, assured Mr. Poroshenko during their meeting that the United States was setting a high bar for lifting sanctions on Russian Federation. "That's why the keys to a peaceful settlement are in Moscow". Washington calls it an "annexation" and says that the sanctions will not be lifted until the peninsula becomes part of Ukraine again.

"We came to agreement with the secretary-general that Ukraine and the whole world today need strong and decisive actions by the United Nations like never before", Poroshenko said. "We want to acknowledge that, (but) we still have more to do", he said.

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