US ready to 'respond quickly' to referendum in Crimea

The United States stands ready to "respond quickly" if a referendum on Crimea's defection to the Russian Federation is held as planned on Sunday, the White House has said.

Washington said it was "regrettable" that Russia had chosen not to act to reduce tensions in the Ukrainian region after US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Kerry has meanwhile tweeted a photo of his discussion with the Russian Foreign Minister, saying "many ideas" had been "put forward" during the six-hour talks.

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Had in-depth/frank discussion on #Ukraine w/ Russia’s #FMLavrov for 6 hrs today. Many ideas put forward. http://t.co/E8dF2wtRL8

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Read: Lavrov claims Crimea means more to Russians than Falklands does to UK

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International observers arrive in Crimea ahead of vote

International observers invited by Russia and Crimean authorities have arrived in Simferopol ahead of Sunday's referendum.