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Hollande, Merkel head to Belarus for Minsk talks on Ukrainian settlement

February 11, 2015, 12:37 UTC+3
According to the statement, the French and German leaders held phone talks, analyzed the situation and intend to imply maximum efforts to achieve a successful outcome of the negotiations
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Presidential residence, where Ukraine peace negotiations take place in Minsk, Belarus

Presidential residence, where Ukraine peace negotiations take place in Minsk, Belarus

© EPA/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

PARIS, February 11. /TASS/. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will go to the Belarusian capital of Minsk for the talks on the Ukrainian conflict settlement, the French presidential office said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the French and German leaders held a series of telephone talks on the issue this morning, analyzed the situation and intend to imply maximum efforts to achieve a successful outcome of the negotiations.

The talks will be held in the Palace of Independence in Minsk in the format of the Normandy Four, which besides the German and French leaders will also involve Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

On Tuesday Minsk was the venue for the talks of international negotiators from the Contact Group on the resolution of the ongoing military conflict in the southeast of Ukraine.

The Contact Group’s participants reportedly squared a scheme of withdrawal of heavy weapons, agreed a ceasefire regime and mechanisms of control to implement agreements reached. The parties also discussed future political structure of south-east Ukraine’s Donbas and local elections.

Talks brought together Viktor Medvedchuk, special envoy for humanitarian issues and leader of Ukrainsky Vybor (Ukrainian Choice) public organization, and former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, both representing the Ukrainian side, alongside representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special envoy to Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, who acted as a mediator.

Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine’s embattled east as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over parts of the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

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