Ukraine: Hollande determined for peace talks to succeed

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2015 12:31 PM
Ukraine: Hollande determined for peace talks to succeed

PARIS (AP) — French president Francois Hollande said he is determined for Ukraine peace talks to succeed, but without any certainty, ahead of a planned meeting Wednesday in Minsk between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.

Hollande said "it is our common interest to get a global agreement." He spoke to reporters following a meeting Tuesday with the president of Romania, one of Ukraine's neighbors, as fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified. He also stressed the economic "benefit" of resuming normal trade with Russia.

Germany's Foreign Ministry earlier said talks between senior officials from the four countries to pave the way for the summit of leaders in Minsk will take place Tuesday evening.

Hollande said he would have a phone call with German chancellor Angela Merkel before the peace talks resume.

French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius said later Tuesday that France is defending five main principles as the basis for negotiations: an immediate cease-fire, a rapid withdrawal of heavy weapons, an effective border check between Ukraine and Russia, the respect of Ukraine's sovereignty and a specific status for the population of east of Ukraine.

"We want to give every chance to peace and diplomacy," Fabius said.

An agreement in September in Minsk foresaw each side pulling back its heavy weapons 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the lines of engagement. But battlefield positions have changed since then, and the rebels have taken control of more territory.

More than 5,300 people have been killed since fighting in eastern Ukraine began in April, according to a United Nations tally.