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Merkel, Hollande affirm commitment to Ukraine ceasefire

Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine have reiterated the need to observe the ceasefire in Ukraine. In a phone conference, the leaders called for full implementation of the Minsk peace accords.

The leaders of the so-called Normandy Format - named after the location of the first meeting of the leaders of the four countries on Ukraine in France's northwestern Normandy region in June 2014 - spoke for two hours in their first discussions on the conflict in eastern Ukraine since October 2.

"Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko reaffirmed their commitment to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine," and the "concerted withdrawal without delay of heavy weapons," France's presidential palace said in a press release on Wednesday.

The four leaders emphasized the need to follow through on the Minsk II peace accords over the coming year, including preparations for local elections in the restive Donbass region at the start of 2017.

In early 2015, The Minsk I and II accords effectively brought hostilities to an end after more than 9,000 people were killed in the civil war that broke in April 2014. The

ceasefire has, however, been violated

repeatedly.

The four foreign ministers of the Normandy Format countries are set to meet in February to discuss the details of the implementation of the Minsk accords.

Watch video 26:04

Petro Poroshenko on DW's Conflict Zone

ng/jil (AFP, AP, dpa)

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