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US, Russia meet in a high-stakes bid to defuse tensions

The top diplomats of Russia and the United States have met in Switzerland to discuss soaring tensions over Ukraine after a flurry of meetings between officials on both sides in the last week produced no breakthroughs.

Friday’s talks between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov come just 11 days after their deputies met in Geneva and agreed to preserve dialogue amid Russia’s build-up of tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border.

Unlike the January 10 session, which lasted for nearly eight hours, Blinken and Lavrov are expected to have a concise exchange as they determine whether diplomacy remains possible.

They meet at the lakeside luxury Hotel President Wilson, named for the US leader whose decisions included intervening against the Bolshevik revolution.

“These are difficult issues we are facing, and resolving them won’t be done quickly. I don’t expect we’ll solve them in Geneva,” Blinken said in Geneva.

“But we can advance our mutual understanding”, Blinken said, and if Russia de-escalates on the ground, “that can turn us away from this crisis in the weeks ahead”.

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