Russia's Lavrov tells Kerry U.S. should press Kiev to rein in army

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday that Ukraine must stop its military operation in southeastern regions of the country as part of efforts to defuse the crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

In a telephone conversation with Kerry, Lavrov also urged the United States to use its influence to secure the release of what the Russian ministry called leaders of the "protest movement" in southeastern Ukraine - a reference to pro-Russian separatists.

The ministry said Kerry and Lavrov discussed efforts to resolve the situation involving detained OSCE military observers. It said "public structures" controlling parts of southeastern Ukraine had not been properly informed of the observers' plans to travel there.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman, editing by Nigel Stephenson)