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Putin agrees to UN, ICRC help to evacuate civilians from Azovstal plant: UN

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Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to UN and International Committee for the Red Cross involvement in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Ukraine’s Mariupol, the United Nations said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Follow-on discussions will be had with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defense Ministry,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement after Putin met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Moscow.

During their meeting on Tuesday, Putin also told the visiting UN chief that he still had hope for negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine.

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“Despite the fact that the military operation is ongoing, we still hope that we will be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track. We are negotiating, we do not reject [talks],” Putin told Guterres in televised remarks.

Sitting across from Guterres at a long table at the Kremlin, Putin said efforts at talks with Ukraine had been derailed by claims of atrocities committed by Russian forces in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv.

“There was a provocation in the village of Bucha, which the Russian army had nothing to do with,” Putin said. “We know who prepared this provocation, by what means, and what kind of people worked on it.”

Putin told Guterres he was “aware of your concerns about Russia’s military operation” in Ukraine and ready to discuss it, but blamed the turmoil in the country on an “anti-state coup” that overturned a pro-Russian president in 2014.

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