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MOSCOW, February 13. /TASS/. The talks that Russian President Vladimir Putin and held with leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany in Minsk on February 11-12 can be recognized as the longest negotiations the Russian leader has even had, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Friday.
The Kremlin does not have statistics on exact timing and duration of negotiations, but the meeting in Minsk definitely was one of the longest, Peskov, who has been working with Putin for the last 15 years, noted. "No one has ever seen anything like this," he added. "Our experts cannot recall any other session that lasted for so many hours," said the press secretary, who also participated in the diplomatic marathon.
The meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Fracois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko started in Minsk on February 11 at 8:00pm local time. The talks in Minsk were preceded by two five-hour rounds of talks between Merkel and Hollande with Poroshenko in Kiev and Putin and Moscow.
On February 8, the "Normandy Quartet" discussed the Ukrainian crisis settlement on the phone. Then the meeting in Minsk was scheduled for February 11. The preparations for the talks intensified. The representatives of the four sides continued consultations from Monday to Wednesday, which allowed preparing a plan for discussion for the four leaders.
The importance of issues on the agenda demanded from Putin, Hollande, Merkel and Poroshenko a 16-hour discussion that continued through the night. The leaders made almost no breaks, only leaving the room for 10-15 minutes once in a while. After 14 hours of negotiations, they took some time off in order to consult the Contact Group and agree on some issues in the formats Russia-EU and Ukraine-EU.
Around 12pm, Putin went to meet journalists. Though an experienced participant of numerous negotiations, even he admitted: "It was not the best night in my life." "However, the morning is good, in my opinion, because, despite all difficulties in the negotiating process, we managed to agree on main issues," he said.