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Germany, France propose Ukraine meeting in Minsk next week

Posted November 23

— Germany's foreign minister says he and his French counterpart have proposed a meeting next Tuesday with their Russian and Ukrainian colleagues to discuss peace efforts in eastern Ukraine.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Germany's Parliament on Wednesday that he and Jean-Marc Ayrault last week made the proposal to meet in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. He didn't specify what the response was, if any.

The 2015 Minsk agreement brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles between Ukrainian troops and separatists, but clashes have continued and efforts toward a political settlement have stalled.

Germany last month hosted a summit of the four countries' leaders.

"There were significant improvements in the situation for a few days, perhaps two weeks, but now the security situation there is worsening again," Steinmeier told lawmakers. "The cease-fire is being broken more frequently again."

"Even if we don't succeed in finding the big solution now, such meetings and talks are necessary so that such a situation ... doesn't get out of control," he said. "Even if it is difficult, even if it is tortuously slow, we must not break off our efforts to implement the Minsk agreement step by step."

Steinmeier said he hopes that his Russian and Ukrainian colleagues "assess the seriousness of the situation in a similar way to us." He called on both sides "finally to deliver visible contributions to a sustained easing of tensions in Ukraine."

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