Merkel to have quick meeting with Harper in Ottawa to brief him on Ukraine talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her way to Ottawa to brief Prime Minister Stephen Harper on her peace efforts in Ukraine.

OTTAWA — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her way to Ottawa to brief Prime Minister Stephen Harper on her peace efforts in Ukraine.

Merkel will be in Canada’s capital for the evening on what is just her latest stop in a week of whirlwind shuttle diplomacy to find a peaceful solution to the escalating Russian-backed incursion into eastern Ukraine.

Merkel met U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington earlier Monday, where the two leaders pledged solidarity.

Reports of a transatlantic rift have emerged in recent days with the U.S. considering arming Ukraine forces with lethal defensive weaponry to help them defend against Russian-backed separatists. France and Germany oppose the plan.

Standing next to Obama at the White House, Merkel said she sees no military solution to the continued fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Obama said he hasn’t made up his mind on the extra military assistance but if diplomacy fails, the U.S. is looking at whether “there are additional things we can do to help Ukraine bolster its defences in the face of Russian aggression.”

Merkel’s brief stopover in Ottawa comes during a period of frenetic travel that could see her coming face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin twice in the space of a week.

Along with French President Francois Hollande, she met with Putin in Moscow last Friday.

After a four-way phone call Sunday that also included Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the four leaders have agreed to peace talks in the Belarus capital of Minsk this coming Wednesday.

Merkel, who speaks Russian, has the closest relationship with Putin of any Western leader.

“I myself actually would not be able to live without having made this attempt,” Merkel said in Washington through a translator.

Harper, who has steadfastly snubbed Putin, is arguably the most distant of any G7 leader. A senior government source says that while Harper is keen to hear from Merkel, he is not likely to call Putin any time soon.

The United Nations estimates 5,300 people have been killed since last April when Russian separatists began clashing with Ukraine’s military.

On Monday, the European Union said it would not order more sanction on Russia until it saw the outcome of this week’s peace talks.

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