Ukraine - biggest obstacle to normal Russian Federation ties, says Tillerson

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But Western powers fear that President Vladimir Putin is seeking to limit the force's mandate in such a way that any ceasefire would simply consolidate his allies' gains. "We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations", Mr Lavrov said at an worldwide conference in Vienna, according to the Interfax news agency.

President Donald Trump campaigned on the need to improve ties with Russia, Tillerson said in Vienna, adding that "normalizing" the relationship was something the USA still "badly would like to do". Russian Federation denies accusations that it fomented the conflict and provided arms and fighters.

"The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine", Tillerson said.

"Russia is arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces".

The gulf between the United States and Russian Federation showed no signs of narrowing Thursday, as top diplomats from the two countries faced off over a proposed U.N. peacekeeping force in Ukraine.

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"We can have differences in other arenas, in Syria, we can have differences in other areas", Tillerson said.

"We will continue to work with Russian Federation to see if we could not agree a peacekeeping force that could enter Ukraine (and) reduce the violence", Tillerson told the news conference. "We call on Russian Federation and its proxies to end its harassment, intimidation and its attacks on the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission".

Both Tillerson and Lavrov made their sharp remarks before they sat down to meet in late afternoon. We get dialogue, we get cooperation, we don't have it solved.

In his speech, he referred to the 2015 Minsk ceasefire agreement, brokered in the Belarussian capital by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

"We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea", Tillerson said. Trump calls on Saudis to "immediately" lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE said Thursday that Russia's involvement in Ukraine remained the major barrier to warmer relations between Washington and Moscow.

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