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EU working with Russia, Ukraine to defuse crisis

Saturday - 4/5/2014, 8:10am  ET

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says efforts will continue to reduce tension between Russia and Ukraine, but sanctions against Moscow will stay on the table.

Ashton says "work is ongoing" to ensure the 28-nation bloc is prepared to take measures against Russia if that becomes necessary, and stressed the "need to persuade Russia to deescalate the situation."

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March following a referendum called just two weeks after Russian forces had overtaken the Ukrainian region. Ukraine and the West have rejected the vote and the annexation.

The Ukraine crisis dominated the two-day informal talks in Athens among EU foreign ministers.

Ashton says the EU will continue to consult with Moscow and Washington on planned economic agreements with Ukraine and Moldova.

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