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Contact group on Ukraine meets to advance Putin peace plan

September 05, 2014, 15:59 UTC+3 updates ¶ MINSK

Plans will be drawn up and signed by a five-party contact group, said Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov

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© ITAR-TASS/Vadim Rymakov

MINSK, September 05. /ITAR-TASS/. Key players seeking to resolve the crisis in Ukraine meet in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Friday to coordinate action based on the seven-point peace plan proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting at the President Hotel is held behind closed doors. Journalists were allowed to take formal photographs for two minutes and then were asked to leave the hall.

Plans will be drawn up and signed by a five-party contact group, said Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov.

About 100 journalists of Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Western mass media are waiting the meeting results at the hotel lobby. The sides are expected to make a statement to reporters on the meeting results.

The group assembles former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Plotnitsky, Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, and Heidi Tagliavini, representing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Russian and Ukrainian officials ahead of the meeting expressed the hope for the signing of concrete documents.

Ukraine’s former President Leonid Kuchma told reporters, “We have come for peace, to negotiate a ceasefire,” adding that the Ukrainian side was ready for truce. “If other sides have the same attitude, the plan will be certainly signed,” he said.

“It is necessary to stop killing each other,” he said, adding that the main goal was “an immediate ceasefire.” Kuchma told TASS he was confident documents would be signed at the meeting.

Putin’s peace plan suggests that all the armed groups in the southeast of Ukraine should stop the offensive operations, all Ukrainian security forces should be withdrawn from populated localities to a safe distance, international control should be established over the observance of the ceasefire accord, use of military aircraft against civilians should be stopped, the exchange of prisoners of war should be conducted on an equal basis, all humanitarian corridors should be opened and repair brigades sent to the region for the infrastructure restoration.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised to order a ceasefire if the seven-point peace plan is signed in Minsk.

The DPR and LPR government heads, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, for their part also said they were ready to simultaneously order a ceasefire.

The Contact Group for Ukraine has already held two meetings in Minsk: on July 31 and on September 1.

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