Senior ICRC official in Kiev for talks on aid convoy

Thomas Grove, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

GENEVA - A senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in Kiev on Thursday for talks on the delivery of Russian aid to eastern Ukraine, an ICRC spokeswoman said.

Laurent Corbaz, head of ICRC Operations for Europe and Central Asia, will meet Ukrainian authorities on Friday and also discuss a separate Ukrainian-led aid convoy heading to the eastern region before he goes to Moscow, ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk said.

"The two convoys are two separate issues, which are discussed with those concerned," Isyuk told Reuters.

In his separate meetings, Corbaz will stress the independent aid agency's "strictly humanitarian role" and that "the delivery of aid should not be politicised", she said.

Artillery shells hit close to the centre of Ukraine's separatist-held city of Donetsk for the first time on Thursday, killing at least one person, as a large Russian aid convoy rumbled towards the border. ]

The Russian convoy carrying 2,000 tonnes of water, baby food and other humanitarian aid drove through southern Russia towards the frontier, while Kiev repeated it could not enter until Ukrainian authorities had cleared its cargo.

The ICRC has said it needs a detailed list of contents from Russian authorities before it can help with distributing the goods once they enter Ukraine.

"An ICRC representative has made contact with the leader of Russia-led convoy to act as a contact person. Currently the convoy is camped on a parking lot, south of the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinski, in the Rostov region of the Russian Federation," Isyuk said.

The two sides still need to agree on the issues of border crossing procedures and customs clearance, she said.

Asked if the convoy might cross into parts of Ukraine under rebel control, she said that the ICRC would not comment until the two sides reached final arrangements.

The Ukrainian Red Cross remains the ICRC's "primary partner" for the needs assessments and distribution of the humanitarian aid in the country, including in the Donbass region, she added.

The region is the main stronghold of pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces.


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