Astana: French President Francois Hollande on Friday vowed to work towards a "de-escalation" in the Ukraine crisis as he began a two-day trip to Kazakhstan.
Hollande met Nursultan Nazarbayev, the strongman president of the energy-rich Central Asian country and made the remarks at a joint press conference.
The French president called for a "de-escalation" in Ukraine which he said should first be "verbal" and then "military."
"We are going to work together to find all the points that will allow ... to initiate a de-escalation," Hollande said.
He said the crisis posed "serious threats to the economy of the entire region."
Nazarbayev, a 74-year-old who has ruled the Central Asian country bordering Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union, meanwhile called for the West "to put an end to sanctions" on Moscow.
The sanctions have also hit Kazakhstan since the economies of the two countries are closely linked, a Western diplomat said.
In May energy-rich Kazakhstan signed up to join a economic bloc called the Eurasian Economic Union backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which also includes ex-Soviet Belarus and Armenia.
The Kazakh leader warned Western powers "not to anger Russia" and called for a "compromise and a way out of this impasse."
He said that while "all international rights had been violated" during the Ukraine crisis, "ultimatums" were "not the best solution".
"What has happened in Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable (but) I don`t think that we should return to a Cold War," he said.
The Kremlin said late Friday that Putin and Nazarbayev had spoken by phone to discuss "current questions on the international and regional agenda" and a meeting of the leadership of the Eurasian Economic Union in Moscow in late December.