Sun, 22 Sep 2019

Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone on May 24, discussing efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, both offices said.

According to Zelenskiy's office, both leaders agreed on the need to restart peace efforts, including the so-called Normandy format, which brings together Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France.

The statement also said that Zelenskiy plans to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in the nearest future.

In Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on May 24 that Merkel and Zelenskiy agreed on a need for a 'full implementation' of the current peace agreements.

In Moscow, the Kremlin said Russia would support a meeting within the Normandy format in case if there would be potential for a significant result.

'No one wants it to be a meeting for the sake of a meeting,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by TASS on May 24.

Since April 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed in fighting between Kyiv's forces and the Russia-backed separatists who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict -- have contributed to a decrease in fighting but have failed to hold.

A new cease-fire agreement was reached on March 8, but both sides have accused each other of repeated violations since then.

The conflict in the region known as the Donbas is one of the challenges facing Zelenskiy, who was inaugurated on May 20.

With reporting by dpa and TASS

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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