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'Frank words' in Ukraine talks

August 18, 2014

Germany's foreign minister has admitted that talks he hosted involving his French, Russian and Ukrainian counterparts had been difficult. However, he added, all sides were commited to ending the violence.

A Russian armoured personnel carrier drives on a road in the Russian-Ukrainian border area some 30 km outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, on August 17, 2014. The Red Cross on August 17 said its officials had arrived at an area where a mammoth Russian aid convoy is parked close to Ukraine's border but were still waiting to start official inspections. "Our representatives are there with the convoy. They are not yet inspecting the contents but are just looking at the convoy," Victoria Zotikova, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Moscow told AFP. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said early on Monday that "frank words" had been exchanged "on some issues."

The minister, who did not elaborate on the heated nature of the debate, added that his counterparts would report back to their leaders, with a view to possibly seeking more talks.

"We will, and that's what's been agreed now, first report to our heads of government and state in our capital cities and then possibly during the course of Tuesday tomorrow, agree how to continue today's discussion," Steinmeier said. "The aim remains to bring about a ceasefire in Ukraine and prevent future victims," he added.

Steinmeier's sentiment about the tough nature of the talks was echoed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.

"They were five hours of the most difficult talks," Klimkin tweeted after the meeting. "To achieve progress, it might be necessary to meet many times for five hours." Klimkin suggested in another tweet that Ukraine had not needed to abandon any of its key principles in the talks.

The conflict between Ukraine's government and separatists has been running for four months now, killing more than 2,100 people and unleashing a humanitarian crisis. According to the United Nations, more than 285,000 people have fled the fighting.

Ukraine accuses Russia of interfering in the fighting, saying that Moscow is furnishing the rebels with weapons and extra fighters. The EU and US are in agreement, with both slapping limited sanctions on Russia. Following a Ukrainian assertion that it had destroyed Russian vehicles which had crossed the border onto its territory, the US accused Moscow of "provocative" actions.

The separatists shot down another Ukrainian warplane overnight into Sunday. A military spokesman confirmed the downing of the Mig-29 fighter in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, saying the pilot had ejected and been found after a search.

This latest downing comes after the separatists claimed on Saturday to have opened up a supply line between Donetsk and Luhansk, eastern cities that are besieged by government forces.

rc/av (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)