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Kerry Says Freedoms 'Threatened' In Europe

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said freedoms are “still being threatened” in many parts of the world, “even in Europe.”

Kerry made the comments at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on October 22.

Speaking ahead of next month's 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kerry and Steinmeier warned against a return to the bitter divide between the East and West over the Ukraine crisis.

Kerry said, “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine needs to end.”

The United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia following the annexation of Crimea in March and perceived support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Kerry called on Moscow to take concerns over the conflict in Ukraine seriously, insisting the West does not seek conflict with Russia.

"None of us want another generation growing up with the foreboding sense of a Cold War," he added.

Steinmeier warned that the Ukraine conflict is "so combustible that it still threatens the peaceful order in Europe."

"Our responsibility is to prevent a new division of Europe developing," he added.

Germany has been leading efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, while seeking to keep up pressure on Moscow with sanctions.

Russia Will 'Stand Firm'

Earlier on October 22 in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced "attempts by one group of countries to dictate solutions to others."

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Civic Youth Chamber, Lavrov said the Ukrainian crisis is a "direct effect of attempts by our Western counterparts to preserve and move to the east the division lines in the Euro-Atlantic space."

He added that Russia will stand "firm" in defending its interests.

Also on October 22, Kerry and Steinmeier met German high-school students and laid a wreath at a memorial where a remnant of the Berlin Wall has been left standing since its 1990 demolition.

Berlin will mark on November 9 a quarter century since Soviet-backed East German authorities decided to let the populace come and go at will through the guarded concrete wall then dividing city.

The U.S. secretary of state is to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on October 22 as U.S.-German ties remain clouded by the 2013 revelations of spying by U.S. intelligence agencies on German soil, including the bugging of Merkel's mobile phone.

With reporting by dpa, Reuters, AP, and TASS
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