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Diplomatic efforts to calm the Ukraine crisis inched forward Monday, with Moscow saying it would consider Western proposals for talks on the standoff but insisting Crimea had the right to secede. Britain said Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised to meet with his foreign minister Monday to discuss the possibility of creating an "international contact group" -- his first indication he may be willing to take part in the talks being pushed by the US and Germany to ease the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. But that embryonic sign of diplomatic progress came against the backdrop of Putin's recognition Sunday of Crimea's self-declared leaders as the breakaway peninsula's "legitimate" authorities. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuked the Russian strongman for his comments, telling him Crimea's planned March 16 referendum on joining Russia was illegal.
Malaysia said Monday there is still no trace of wreckage from a jet that vanished with 239 people on board, deepening the anguish of relatives two days after the "mystifying" disappearance. A potential breakthrough emerged Sunday when an aircraft scouring waters off southern Vietnam -- part of an international search and rescue effort -- spotted two objects authorities said could be debris from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. But Malaysian authorities said there was no confirmation they came from the Boeing 777 which slipped off radar screens early on Saturday, an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. "Unfortunately ladies and gentleman, we have not found anything that appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft itself," said Malaysia's civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
By Eveline Danubrata and Nguyen Phuong Linh KUALA LUMPUR/PHU QUOC ISLAND, Vietnam (Reuters) - T he disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner is an "unprecedented aviation mystery", a senior official said on Monday, with a massive air and sea search now in its third day failing to find any confirmed trace of the plane or 239 people aboard. The head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said a hijacking could not be ruled out as investigators explore all theories for the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route to Beijing. "As far as we are concerned, we have to find the aircraft, we have to find a piece of the aircraft if possible." As dozens of ships and aircraft from seven countries scour the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, questions mounted over possible security lapses and whether a bomb or hijacking could have brought down the Boeing airliner. Interpol confirmed on Sunday at least two passengers used stolen passports and said it was checking whether others aboard had used false identity documents.