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Russian foreign minister: Ukraine can't function as unified state, should be federation

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PARIS — Russia's foreign minister says Ukraine can't function as a "unified state" and should be a loose federation of regions that choose their own economic model, language and religion.

PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before the start of their meeting at the Russian Ambassador's residence about the situation in Ukraine, in Paris Sunday March 30, 2014. Kerry traveled to Paris for a last minute meeting with Lavrov. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before the start of their meeting at the Russian Ambassador's residence about the situation in Ukraine, in Paris Sunday March 30, 2014. Kerry traveled to Paris for a last minute meeting with Lavrov. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Sergei Lavrov said he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the possibility of a federated Ukrainian state at "very, very constructive" late-night talks Sunday in Paris.

The talks are part of broader diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis in Ukraine after protests drove out a pro-Russian president and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in response.

He said he and Kerry agreed to work with the Ukrainian government to improve rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and disarming "irregular forces and provocateurs."

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