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John Kerry joins Middle East peace talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry disembarks from his plane upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International airport. Credit: Reuters

US secretary of state John Kerry is heading back to the Middle East for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as peace negotiations hit a critical make-or-break point.

The US state department said Mr Kerry will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories amid a flurry of diplomatic activity by American mediators, in the hope of salvaging the troubled negotiations and getting them to extend the talks beyond a current late-April deadline.

US-Russia's Ukraine crisis talks end after four hours

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov's latest talks were held at the Russian Ambassador's residence in the French capital. Credit: Reuters/Jacquelyn Martin

The latest Ukraine crisis talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris have ended after four hours, a US official has said.

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Kerry hopes Crimea will not impact Russia's Syria role

John Kerry has suggested Vladimir Putin may have annexed Crimea because he was "angry about the end of the Cold War". Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he hopes the current situation in Crimea will not have an impact on cooperation with Russia over the ongoing destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.

Mr Kerry also said the US is "convinced" that the Syria could move faster on the destruction programme than it is currently.

Kerry: Russia must pull back troops

US Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Russia must pull back its troops to their bases in Crimea, a US official has said.

Mr Kerry also reiterated that the White House regards today's referendum on the future of Crimea as illegal and the US government will not recognise the outcome.

Two of the EU's most senior officials, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy, also released a joint statement calling the referendum "illegal and illegitimate".

Read: Crimea holds referendum amid Ukraine crisis

Kerry: Putin won't decide on Crimea until after vote

John Kerry said he had outlined a "pathway" for Russia to easing tensions in his six-hour talks with Sergei Lavrov.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Sergei Lavrov told him Vladimir Putin is not prepared to make any decision on Ukrainian's Crimea region until after Sunday's referendum.

Mr Kerry said the US and the EU are already clear on the referendum, describing it as "illegal under the Ukrainian constitution".

He said the international community will not recognise its outcome.

Mr Kerry said he also told Mr Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, the US was concerned about the deployment of Russian troops in military exercises on the Ukraine border and the "increased anxiety" it had caused amid the current crisis.

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Football diplomacy: Lavrov and Kerry discuss Ukraine

The US Department of State and the Russian foreign ministry have posted pictures of John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov taking a stroll in the garden of the US Ambassador's residence in London:

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After more than three hours, @johnkerry and #Russia's FM Lavrov continue talks on de-escalating tensions in Ukraine. http://t.co/ru9QC5DhPe

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Leaders natter in front of Downing Street cameras

David Cameron and John Kerry enjoyed a bit of a natter earlier today as they posed with William Hague for the cameras to mark the US Secretary of State's visit to Downing Street before his crisis-talks with Russia's Sergei Lavrov.

After the traditional handshake welcome, the Prime Minister described having a "lovely time" in Israel's boisterous parliament, the Knesset, a few days ago.

Watch: Tom Bradby on the Israeli Parliament "which makes our own look like a child's playpen"

Mr Kerry responded that he looked forward to Mr Cameron's "download" on the key visit before joking with Mr Hague about them regularly crossing paths.

The group ended the staged sit-down by reiterating their commitment to taking action against Russia if a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis cannot be found.

Read: Kerry bids to 'resolve differences' with Lavrov in last-ditch talks

Kerry bids to 'resolve differences' with Lavrov at talks

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the US hoped to "move forward together" with Russia "to resolve some of the differences between us" as he entered last-ditch talks over the Ukraine crisis.

John Kerry welcomed Sergei Lavrov to Winfield House, the US Ambassador's Residence in Regents Park.

Mr Kerry said he would "dig in to the issues and possibilities" with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the meeting in London, which comes amid mounting international pressure for the Kremlin to help to halt Sunday's referendum in Crimea.

Mr Kerry said he looked forward to a "good conversation", adding: "Obviously we have a lot to talk about."

Their discussion comes as Germany's Bild newspaper claims the EU and US will enforce visa bans against 13 top Russian officials as sanctions if the referendum goes ahead.

Kerry & Lavrov due to meet in London to discuss Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry are due to meet in London today to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in London today Credit: Reuters

Yesterday the pair discussed proposals for resolving the crisis in Ukraine during a telephone conversation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Lavrov and Kerry talked about "the situation in Ukraine, taking into account existing Russian and U.S. proposals to normalise the atmosphere and provide for civil peace", the ministry said.

Read more: Sergei Lavrov: The master of Russian diplomacy

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