RIGA (Reuters) - Latvia, which holds the rotating chair of European Union governments, believes Russia may be more willing to negotiate a deal to ease tensions over Ukraine, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
"There is a kind of opening we can use," Edgars Rinkevics told reporters, saying the problems the Russian economy was suffering as a result of Western sanctions and falling oil prices appeared to have made Russia more willing to negotiate.
"We have a feeling that they really want to see some softening of sanctions," added Rinkevics, who will travel to Kiev and then to Moscow this weekend.
He declined to comment on whether a summit was likely between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian, German and French counterparts following plans for the four foreign ministers to meet. Rinkevics said he had spoken to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday.
Formerly Soviet Latvia took over the presidency of the European Union on Jan. 1 for six months.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Susan Fenton)