Kerry to see Russian minister on hasty London trip

Secretary of State John Kerry pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2014, before the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Budget hearing. Kerry said he will travel to London to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday in a last-ditch bid to avert a new crisis over Ukraine.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Secretary of State John Kerry pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 12, 2014, before the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Budget hearing. Kerry said he will travel to London to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday in a last-ditch bid to avert a new crisis over Ukraine. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry says he will travel to London to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday in a last-ditch bid to avert a new crisis over Ukraine.

Kerry told Congress on Wednesday he will make the trip to try to calm rising East-West tensions ahead of a weekend referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region on whether to join Russia. Sunday’s vote in the largely pro-Moscow peninsula is widely expected to endorse its secession from Ukraine. Western powers say they won’t recognize the referendum because it violates Ukraine’s constitution. Russia maintains it is a legitimate expression of the Crimean people’s desire for self-determination.

Kerry has been unsuccessfully trying for more than a week to broker a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian and European diplomats to ease the situation.

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