Amid tensions, Putin, Hollande, Merkel to hold Ukraine talks

AP News
Posted: Oct 12, 2016 1:09 PM
Amid tensions, Putin, Hollande, Merkel to hold Ukraine talks

PARIS (AP) — Despite growing diplomatic tensions over Syria, the leaders of Russia, France and Germany may meet "very soon" in Berlin to revive peace efforts for Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone Wednesday with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hollande's office said in a statement.

The statement said they agreed that a Ukraine peace meeting would have to be "constructive and useful" toward ensuring a cease-fire and free elections. Prospects of a quick solution to Ukraine's conflict between the government and Russia-backed separatist rebels seem remote, however.

Merkel's office added that for such a meeting to take place, "more work is still necessary to establish the prerequisites."

Still, the conversation was a sign that diplomatic lines of communication remain open after Russia vetoed a French U.N. resolution on Syria, France accused Russia of war crimes and Putin canceled a trip to Paris.

In its readout of the call, the Kremlin said that Putin voiced hope that a meeting of top diplomats from the U.S., Russia and several other nations in Lausanne, Switzerland, set for this Saturday could help settle the situation in Syria.