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MOSCOW, 6 March. /TASS/. The foreign ministers of Russia and Germany on Friday urged the European security watchdog OSCE to prolong the mandate of its observer mission in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said after phone talks between Sergey Lavrov and Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
"Progress has been noted" in implementing the ceasefire in east Ukraine and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides, the ministry said, adding that the diplomats had emphasized "the need to continue and intensify efforts" of the OSCE mission "to ensure effective control over these processes", providing daily reports assessing actions of the sides to fulfil commitments made at peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, last month.
Lavrov and Steinmeier called on the OSCE's permanent council, the organization's decision-making body, to make a swift decision on extending the mandate of its observer mission and expanding the number of its monitors to 1,000, it said.
The two foreign ministers also agreed to facilitate work of the Contact Group on the Ukraine crisis for the implementation of other provisions of the Minsk peace deal agreed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France on February 12, including resuming social and economic ties, ensuring amnesty, preparing local elections and carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine, the ministry said.
On February 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a marathon negotiating session in Minsk, seeking to reach political settlement in the future of eastern Ukraine.
The deal, announced after more than 16 hours of all-night discussions, called for a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and people’s militias starting on February 15, followed by withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line.
Based on September’s stillborn Minsk peace agreement, the deal also laid out a road map for a lasting settlement in east Ukraine, including constitutional reform to give the war-torn eastern regions more autonomy.