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Leaders want OSCE to play greater role in eastern Ukraine

The leaders of Russia, Germany and France have agreed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) can help in implementing the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The proposal originally came from Kyiv.

The proposal was made by Ukraine in a four-way telephone conference held on Monday evening.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande welcomed the progress made in the ceasefire as well as in the removal of heavy weapons.

Poroshenko's website later said that the three other leaders had been in favor of Kyiv's proposal of sending OSCE observers to flashpoints from which sporadic attacks were still being reported.

On Monday, Kyiv reported rebel shelling on a village near the bombed-out Donetsk airport during Sunday night. Two other nearby villages in the Lugansk region have also been attacked, leading

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin

to remark, during his visit to Tokyo, that the "situation on the ground is very difficult and tense despite a declared ceasefire."

The leaders also talked about related issues such as the exchange of prisoners and humanitarian aid through the International Red Cross, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement after the telephone conference. They even talked about future tasks such as the staging of local elections in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

Greater role for OSCE

Hollande's office in Paris confirmed the decision to ask the OSCE to play a greater role, whereas Kremlin stressed the importance of strict observation of the ceasefire.

The leaders are said to have sent a request to the OSCE to publish a daily report on current frontline developments. The

OSCE has been reporting almost daily on the movement of weapons

, but acknowledged on Monday that it was "not yet in a position to provide verification of withdrawals." To confirm a formal pullback, the OSCE would need "baseline information" as well as "full and unfettered access" to the cleared areas, the organization said.

Foreign ministry officials of the four countries will be meeting on Friday for further discussions on the monitoring of the implementation of the Minsk agreement.

ac/jil (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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