An elderly man sits in a bomb shelter in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, where he hides with other people. Credit: AFP/File
PARIS AFP – French President Francois Hollande spoke Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin about organising a summit on the Ukraine conflict, French officials said.
The leaders had a telephone conversation about the conditions for a summit, which will also include Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and will be held in Berlin “very soon”, although no date has yet been set, a statement from the French presidency said.
The aim was “to try to make progress on a negotiated political solution” to the conflict in eastern Ukraine in which more than 9,600 people have been killed.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of fuelling the fighting, but Moscow denies government involvement.
A peace deal brokered by Germany and France in February 2015 reduced the fighting but has failed to stop it.
France said the conditions for a solution remained a lasting ceasefire, speeding up disarmament and obtaining unrestricted access for Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) observers.
The West also wants guarantees that local elections “can be held within the framework of Ukrainian law and the standards of the OSCE”.
France is pursuing efforts to organise the summit despite tensions with Russia after Putin cancelled a visit to Paris scheduled for next week.
France has said Putin pulled out after Hollande insisted they hold talks during the visit on Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict.
Russia said Wednesday it would hold discussions on the Syria conflict with the United States and key regional powers this weekend, the first meeting on the conflict since Washington broke off bilateral ceasefire negotiations.
Tags: France, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany, Hollande, Merkel, OCSE, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Putin, Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko