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Steinmeier: Germany, China don't want Crimea to set 'precedent' for Ukraine

Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier has said Germany and China don't want the situation in Crimea to set a precedent. His visit to Beijing marks the last stop on his four-day tour of Asia.

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China on the fence in Ukraine crisis

"The developments in Ukraine are of great concern, and both China and Germany have an interest in ensuring that what we have seen in Crimea doesn't set a precedent," Steinmeier said on Monday, following a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.

His comments come after armed

pro-Russian separatists took control

of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk over the weekend, prompting a standoff with security forces. The West has accused Russia of intentionally destabilizing the region as a pretext for sending in its military, as it did in Crimea.

Steinmeier said Germany and China were hoping the upcoming four-way talks in Geneva on Thursday would yield a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine. The highly-anticipated meeting will include Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.

The two foreign ministers called for "de-escalation and non-violence" in Ukraine.

Wang added that China wanted an "international cooperation format until an agreement is reached." He asked Moscow to "not take any steps that could exacerbate developments" in Ukraine.

Pushing German-Chinese relations

Steinmeier also touched on the human rights situation in China. Germany will voice its concerns "always and at every level" over human rights activists

like artist and dissident Ai Weiwei

, he said.

The two also agreed to strengthen dialogue, including on human rights, between Germany and China, with an eye toward Chancellor Angela Merkel's planned visit to the country in July. Steinemeier and Wang announced an "action plan for the medium and long-term cooperation" between their respective countries.

"We need to be in closer agreement in matters of international relations," said Steinmeier, referring not only to Ukraine but also China's ongoing island disputes with its neighbors.

Wang described Berlin as the "pacesetter" in

Beijing's relations with Europe

. He added China was willing to discuss the human rights, but also stressed: "We do not tolerate interference in our internal affairs."

dr/hc (dpa, Reuters)

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