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Ukraine ex-president Kuchma remains Kiev’s representative at peace talks — FM

January 27, 2015, 18:27 UTC+3 KIEV

Adviser to President Kuchma and leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics held talks in Donetsk

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Ukraine ex-president Leonid Kuchma

Ukraine ex-president Leonid Kuchma

© ITAR-TASS/BELTA/Natalia Ablozhei

KIEV, January 27. /TASS/. Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said that former President Leonid Kuchma would further represent Kiev at peace talks on the conflict in the country’s east.

When asked about Monday’s talks between Viktor Medvedchuk, a one-time adviser to President Kuchma and leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, the ministry's spokesman, Yevgeny Perebeinos, said they probably discussed work to secure the release of hostages.

"As for the working group, everybody knows that Ukraine’s official representative in the contact group is Ukrainian ex-president Leonid Kuchma," local media quoted Perebeinos as saying.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Tuesday Moscow is "cautiously optimistic" in its assessments about the meeting between the Ukraine government representative and top officials of the two territories, which took place in Donetsk.

There's hope that this debate will continue, notably over a ceasefire, pullback of artillery and missile systems from the disengagement line and prisoner swaps, the official said.

Monday's meeting "was primarily caused by the fact that amid Ukraine’s offensive actions, Donetsk and Luhansk representatives are known to voice extremely harsh scepticism regarding prospects of the Minsk peace process", Peskov said.

Talks in Donetsk brought together business magnate and Ukrainian Choice organization leader Viktor Medvedchuk, representing the central administration in Kiev, and heads of the two self-proclaimed republics Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.

The meeting was held in the form of preliminary consultations in the run-up to talks between the contact group which normally brings together the former Ukrainian President, Moscow's ambassador to Kiev, a representative from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the self-proclaimed republics’ leaders.

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