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Ukrainian leader seeks fresh Normandy talks to end Donbas conflict

 
Kiev, Jan 12 (IANS) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Kiev is willing to restart the negotiations in the Normandy format to find ways out of the conflict in Ukraine's eastern region of Donbas, the presidential press service said.

"It is time to agree in a substantive manner for ending the conflict, and we are ready for the necessary decisions during the new summit of the leaders of the four countries," Zelensky said on Tuesday during his meeting with the political advisers to the heads of Normandy format countries.

The foreign policy adviser to the German chancellor Jens Plotner, the diplomatic adviser to the president of France Emmanuel Bonne and the head of the Ukrainian President's Office Andriy Yermak participated in the meeting, Xinhua news agency reported.

During the talks, Yermak reaffirmed that the Ukrainian side remains committed to the political and diplomatic settlement of the conflict, stressing the need for a complete ceasefire, the release of hostages and the opening of the crossing points in Donbas.

Yermak, Plotner and Bonne agreed to continue contacts within the Normandy format at the level of advisers to agree on modalities for organising the next summit of the Normandy Four leaders.

At the summit of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, known as the Normandy Four, in Paris on December 9, 2019, the parties issued a joint declaration and agreed to meet four months later in Berlin in order to continue work on resolving the situation in eastern Ukraine.

The declaration envisaged an updated demining plan, a ceasefire in the region by the end of the year and a separation of forces by the end of March 2020, a withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the demarcation line, a prisoner exchange and local elections, among other measures.

The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of some 14,000 people and left as many as 40,000 wounded, began in April 2014.

--IANS
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