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PARIS, March 25. /TASS/. Political directors of the Normandy Four countries, which are Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, launched talks in Paris on Wednesday on the current developments in conflict-hit Ukraine.
The talks, which are expected to be wrapped up this night, are attended by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vadim Pristaiko.
According to Russian diplomatic sources, the Russian side intends to raise at the talks an issue concerning the necessity of launching a dialogue between Kiev and self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).
Kiev intends to raise an issue regarding alleged ceasefire violations on behalf of the self-proclaimed republics.
France and Germany, according to unofficial reports, intend to criticize Russia for allegedly dragging out the formation of working groups within the frames of the Contact Group (Ukraine, DPR, LPR and OSCE).
An issue of prisoners exchange and implementation of Minsk accords will be also on the agenda of the talks, which are yet not planned to be held at the level of foreign ministers.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week that another round of negotiations in the Normandy Four format on the settlement of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is necessary to prevent "the further deterioration of the situation."
"I believe that it is high time for the Normandy Four talks," Lavrov said. "I turned to my colleagues - the foreign ministers of Germany and France - with a proposal to take urgent steps to prevent the situation from taking a nosedive."
The Belarusian capital of Minsk hosted on February 12 summit talks of Normandy Four leaders — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The over 16-hour marathon summit negotiations ended in a package of agreements, which in particular envisaged ceasefire between the Ukrainian conflicting sides starting from midnight on February 15.
Prior to the summit talks Minsk also hosted the meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine involving Ukraine’s ex-president Leonid Kuchma, Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and OSCE’s envoy Heidi Tagliavini, who both acted as mediators.
As a result of the meeting, it was announced that an agreement was reached on the ceasefire in certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the heavy weaponry pullout and measures on a long-term political settlement of the crisis.