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Published: Wednesday March 5, 2014 MYT 4:35:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday March 5, 2014 MYT 4:35:02 PM

France warns Russia of rapid EU sanctions

PARIS (Reuters) - European Union leaders holding a crisis meeting on Ukraine on Thursday could impose sanctions on Russia if there has been no "de-escalation" by then, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Fabius told France's BFM TV that such measures could include restrictions on visas, the assets of individuals and existing discussions on economic ties with Russia.

"Let's start to initiate the path of dialogue, but at the same time tomorrow there is an EU summit and sanctions could be voted tomorrow if there is no de-escalation. I expect and hope that Russia will today tell us that there is a prospect for dialogue with a contact group," he said, referring to proposals to form a grouping of key players in the Ukraine crisis.

Fabius was speaking before hosting talks between his Russian, U.S., Ukrainian and other counterparts on the margins of a long-scheduled meeting on Lebanon in the French capital.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet face-to-face for the first time since the crisis escalated, after a conference in Paris attended by all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, diplomats organising the talks said.

Fabius added that France had jointly elaborated a "crisis exit" plan with Germany, whose leader Angela Merkel has been more reticent than French officials to publicly raise the threat of sanctions on Russia.

Despite his toughly worded warning to Moscow, Fabius reiterated previous comments that France had no plan as yet to suspend deliveries of naval ships to Russia.

(Reporting by John Irish and Mark John; editing by Brian Love)

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