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MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. The Contact Group for peace settlement of the armed civil conflict in eastern Ukraine and its subgroups are expected to meet in Minsk later on Tuesday in a bid to coordinate further steps that might be conducive to implementation of the peace accords reached in September 2014 and February 2015.
For the first time since the launch of the Minsk peace talks format, all the four subgroups will meet simultaneously and the Contact Group will sum up the results of their work later in the day.
At the end of last week, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Francois Hollande of France and Germany's Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed by telephone the possible supplementary steps towards enforcing ceasefire and achieving de-escalation of the civil conflict. The Kremlin press service said the interlocutors had pointed out the importance of unconditional compliance with the agreement on withdrawal of heavy armaments under the supervision of the European security organization OSCE and the setting up of demilitarized zones along the line of contact separating the East-Ukrainian self-defence forces and the armed units loyal to the Kiev government.
"Special attention was given to the activity of the four working subgroups set up in the format of the Contact Group," it said. The Russian side stressed its deep concern over the increasingly frequent shelling of civilian facilities by the pro-Kiev forces, who claimed a number of human lives recently.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday urged the parties to the conflict to center their efforts on establishing direct dialogue.
"I am confident the main thing is to focus on the central element of the Minsk accords, and that's the establishing direct dialogue between Kiev and (the self-defence forces in) Donetsk and Lugansk," he said after talks with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni. "There is no resolving a single problem without it."
Lavrov called for taking immediate steps that might alleviate the everyday burdens for the population of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics the lifting of the economic blockade on the part of Kiev and the resumption of social payments as the first step.
"We pin certain hopes on the meeting of working subgroups in Minsk, in the course of which steps towards a further de-escalation of the military and political situation and prevention of possible breakdowns of the ceasefire," he said.