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DONETSK, January 22. /TASS/. The chief negotiator of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic, Denis Pushilin, said on Thursday the DPR is not planning to attend talks in Minsk without Kiev’s invitation.
“Without the official invitation of Kiev the Contact Group meeting in Minsk will not take place. We have not received it so far,” Pushilin said.
The Donetsk republic’s negotiator said “the Ukrainian side is not planning to sit down at the negotiating table” in light of recent tragic events in the war-torn Donetsk.
On Thursday morning, a mortar shell struck a tram stop in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, killing 13 people, according to doctors. A defense ministry spokesman earlier said 9 people were killed.
The Luhansk republic’s envoy to the Minsk talks, Vladislav Deinego, said the Contact Group should continue its work even following the latest reports. “I hope that yesterday’s Normandy Quartet meeting explained to Kiev the need to hold talks,” he said.
Deinego said he has not received an official invitation to participate in talks from Kiev and the OSCE, adding however: “We are ready for talks and we are waiting for them to begin.”
The shelling comes shortly after the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, Ukraine and France discussed steps in Berlin on Wednesday to reach progress in resolving the Ukrainian crisis.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the diplomats reached an agreement on convening a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine in the foreseeable future.
The Contact Group is the only format where the opposing sides in the Ukrainian conflict are working directly together on all matters to achieve peaceful settlement. It also involves Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 4,800 people, and has displaced another 1.2 million people, according to the latest United Nations figures.