Kerry meets with Ukraine officials



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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry has met today in Ukraine with that country's acting president, prime minister and foreign minister, as well as top parliamentary officials.

It's a show of U.S. support for Ukraine's new leadership, as it deals with a Russian military takeover of Crimea, a mostly pro-Russian region in southeastern Ukraine.

After today's meeting, Kerry urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to stand down. Kerry said the U.S. is looking for ways to de-escalate tensions.

He told reporters that Russia has been "working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further." He said it's "not appropriate to invade a country, and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve."

Kerry earlier walked the streets where nearly 100 anti-government protesters were gunned down by police last month. He promised Ukrainians that U.S. aid is on the way.

The Obama administration announced a $1 billion energy subsidy package for Ukraine as Kerry was arriving there. The United States is preparing economic sanctions -- something Kerry said "Russia is pushing us to do."

%@AP Links

APPHOTO UKRM120: Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Earlier, in a somber show of U.S. support for Ukraine's new leadership, Kerry walked the streets where nearly 100 anti-government protesters were gunned down by police last month, and promised beseeching crowds that American aid is on the way. (AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, Pool) (4 Mar 2014)

<<APPHOTO UKRM120 (03/04/14)££

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