France calls for prisoner exchange in Ukraine conflict

AP News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2016 6:48 PM

PARIS (AP) — France's foreign minister is calling for an April 30 deadline for a prisoner exchange in the Ukraine conflict and local elections by mid-year in the Donbas region.

After a meeting with his Russian, Ukrainian and German counterparts to examine how the cease-fire in Ukraine is holding up, Jean-Marc Ayrault said late Thursday that diplomats called for the "liberation and an exchange of all prisoners and everyone held illegally" by the end of April. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin appeared dubious that there would be a release, saying "We can't reach any breakthrough" on the issue.

A grim-faced Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov left without commenting on the talks, well ahead of the other diplomats.

Ayrault said elections were among the main goals of the meeting, and that diplomats would work out a calendar to achieve them in coming weeks.