Leaders agree on Ukrainian peace talks this week

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2014 2:37 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on Monday reached an agreement to call another round of Ukraine peace talks this week.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Vladimir Putin of Russia, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached the deal during a conference call.

Poroshenko's office said the negotiations will be held in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Wednesday and Friday.

Previous rounds of talks in September involving representatives of Ukraine, Russia, pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe produced a ceasefire deal, which has often been violated. Recent peace efforts have helped sharply reduce hostilities, and the conflicting parties are now discussing the pullout of heavy weapons.

Poroshenko emphasized the need to fulfill all provisions of the previous agreements, including the observance of the ceasefire, drawing a separation line between the warring sides and the pullout of troops and heavy weapons. The Ukrainian leader also stressed the need for Moscow to release Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian military officer who was taken prisoner by the rebels over the summer and was later put in prison in Russia.

Earlier in the day, Kazakstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Kiev and held talks with Poroshenko before flying to Moscow.

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He said the conflict in eastern Ukraine is "nonsense" and called on both nations to find a way to resolve it.

Nazarbayev did not single out one side as being in fault in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists that has killed around 4,700 people. Moscow denies allegations that it is providing soldiers and equipment for the rebels.

"I call on Russia and Ukraine to think about finding compromise," he said, according to the Interfax news agency. "This situation is nonsense and should not be taking place."