Sunday, October 12, 2014


Russia's Putin to attend G20 leaders summit: Australia

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed Sunday Vladimir Putin will attend the G20 leaders' summit in November, despite concerns about Russia's actions in Ukraine in recent months.

Australia's confirmation that the Russian leader would attend the high-powered summit came after Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said he would also meet Putin next week.

"I spoke with the Finance Minister of Russia only yesterday... and he did confirm that President Putin will be coming to the G20 leaders' summit in Brisbane," Hockey told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday morning.

"That has certainly been the consensus of other members of the G20 that President Putin should attend. And I think there will be some full and frank dialogue with President Putin at that meeting."

Hockey added that it was "certainly the strong view of the president of the US, the chancellor of Germany and others that he should be attending".

There were question marks over Putin's attendance due to the six-month conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, which has killed more than 3,300 people.

But there had been signs of a shift after Hockey said at the G20 finance ministers' meeting in September that member nations believed Russia's attendance would help address the geo-political tensions.

Poroshenko said Saturday he would meet Putin while attending the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Milan, but added: "I don't expect that these will be easy negotiations."

The Milan talks will also include the prime ministers of Italy and Britain as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poroshenko's announcement came as Kiev reported rebel attacks had subsided, signalling the possibility of rescuing a truce in the conflict.

The two leaders last met in late August for talks that led to the truce accord. Fighting has continued in several areas along the frontline where the two sides have failed to pull back heavy artillery, as required under the ceasefire.

Opposition to Putin's attendance at the G20 summit intensified earlier this year after a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 onboard, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

Kiev and the West have accused Moscow-backed separatists of shooting it down with a surface-to-air BUK missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charge and has pointed the finger back at Kiev.
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