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Ukrainian foreign minister Klimkin says no breakthrough in Ukraine talks

With the Minsk peace accord more than a year old, France and Germany say little has been done to implement it. Although violence has wound down, social and economic reforms remain neglected, Berlin says.

Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said Thursday that little progress had been made after hours of talks in Paris designed to get a fragile peace deal in eastern Ukraine back on track.

After several hours of negotiations among Ukrainian, Russian, French and German leaders Thursday evening, Klimkin told news agency Reuters the talks had been largely unsuccessful.

"No, I don't have that impression," Klimkin said when asked if there had been a breakthrough.

His Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov made no comment on the evening's talks.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier accused Russia and Ukraine of lacking sincerity during the negotiations.

"I am not satisfied with the way Kyiv and Moscow are operating the negotiations here," Steinmeier said late Thursday after the meetings. "I'm afraid the situation in eastern Ukraine really isn't being viewed seriously enough, and it can escalate again at any time," he added.

'Real progess' sought

Paris and Berlin want to see "real progress" from Kyiv and Moscow, Germany's top diplomat Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday. Steinmeier and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault have been ramping up calls in recent months for Russia and Ukraine to

make better progress on a ceasefire

that was supposed to end the Ukrainian conflict.

"We are meeting in a critical phase in the implementation of the Minsk accords," said Steinmeier, referencing the Belorussian capital where the deal was inked.

"We will say very clearly... we must really advance, first in consolidating the ceasefire and secondly in restarting the political process," the foreign minister added.

While violence has been significantly reduced following the February 2015 agreement, which was brokered by France and Germany, the political, social, and economic facets of the deal remain largely unaddressed.

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Mixed hopes for Ukraine peace process

Last month, Steinmeier and Ayrault visited Ukraine and called on the government to implement the necessary measures so that the war-torn east could finally hold local elections. Despite this request, Kyiv has continued to insist that a complete cessation of hostilities is a prerequisite for allowing the votes.

The conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists has left some 9,000 people dead since it began in early 2014. Moscow has consistently denied backing the rebels, even in the face of tough economic sanctions from the West.

es/bw (dpa, AFP)

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