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Leaders aim for midweek Ukraine talks

February 8, 2015

The leaders of Germany, Russia, France and Ukraine are set to meet in Minsk later this week to continue to seek a resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. This followed a telephone call linking the four leaders.

Ukraine Region Donezk Soldaten Armee
Image: Reuters/M. Shemetov

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that following a conference call on Sunday, which involved French President Francois Hollande, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the four leaders had agreed to aim to meet in person in the Belarusian capital on Wednesday.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told news agencies that between now and then, the four country's diplomats would continue to work to refine a compromise proposal to end the fighting.

No further details were immediately available, but the news comes just days after Merkel and Hollande travelled to both Kyiv and Moscow to put the elements of a new peace initiative to Poroshenko and Putin.

Little information has emerged about the peace plan, and speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Merkel was tight-lipped about the details, while at the same time playing down the initiative's chance of ending the bloodshed.

"It is uncertain whether it will lead to success, but from my point of view and that of the French president it is definitely worth trying,"

A ceasefire agreement was reached in negotiations held in Minsk in September, but the truce has been repeatedly violated and there has been a serious escalation in the fighting over the past few weeks.

The United Nations estimates the number of people killed since the conflict broke out 10 months ago at more than 5,300.

pfd/sms (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)