UN chief urges leaders `to lower temperature` in Ukraine crisis
Freetown (Sierra Leone): United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon today said he had phoned US Secretary of State John Kerry and senior European ministers to discuss Ukraine, calling on all sides to "lower their temperature".
Ban, who is on a visit to Sierra Leone, told a news conference in the capital Freetown he was sending Ivan Simonovic, his assistant secretary general for human rights, to "monitor the human rights situation" in Ukraine.
"What is important and urgent is that the principle of unity, security and the sovereign integrity of Ukraine be protected," he said.
"I urge all parties to lower their temperature and rhetoric and sit down together to have a constructive dialogue to solve the issue."
The secretary general said he had telephoned Kerry as well as French and German foreign ministers Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier today morning to discuss a settlement in Crimea, where pro-Moscow forces are in de facto control.
"Peace and security in Ukraine have regional and global implications so the tension should be defused. I am making this call from Freetown for all sides to sit down and resolve the tension," Ban added.
Kerry, Steinmeier and Fabius were in Paris on Wednesday for an international meeting on Lebanon, and held informal talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the Crimea, according to a US State Department official.
The Black Sea peninsula has come under near complete control by pro-Moscow forces although Russian President Vladimir Putin insists there are no Russian troops there.
The UN chief was in Sierra Leone for the closure of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), marking the end of 15 years of peace operations during and after its brutal civil war.
"Sierra Leone represents one of the world`s most successful cases of post-conflict recovery, peacekeeping and peace-building," he told the news conference, held jointly with the west African nation`s President Ernest Bai Koroma.
Between 1991 and 2002, a ruinous conflict raged in Sierra Leone which became known for child soldiers, the sale of "blood diamonds" and widespread rape and murder, with thousands having their limbs hacked off by rebels.
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