PARIS (AP) — Further peace talks over the Ukrainian crisis will be held in the coming days, French president Emmanuel Macron said Monday, following a meeting in Paris with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.
Macron said in a joint news conference that a phone call between the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia will be scheduled by the end of next week in an effort to make tangible progress.
He insisted the so-called "Normandy Format" talks between the four countries are still the best forum to discuss the situation, as the conflict between Ukraine's government and pro-Russia separatists drags on.
"What can certainly be tried is to change the approach somewhat," Macron said/
He suggested setting "clear" objectives prior to the talks in order to get "concrete results even if those can appear limited."
He notably proposed the withdrawal of all armed forces from the front line between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces, with observers from Europe's OSCE security organization to monitor the situation.
Poroshenko said he feels "much more optimistic" following his meeting with Macron. He said his country is ready to implement all the points of the peace agreements.
"As far as the withdrawal of troops is concerned, we are prepared to respect this but we want an OSCE presence 24/7 on the line of contact," Poroshenko said.
During his presidential campaign, Macron vowed to renew peace talks to stabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine in order to gradually diminish sanctions against Russia.
Last week, the leaders of European Union nations agreed to extend sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine for another six months, following the annexation of Crimea three years ago.