BERLIN (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke Saturday to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko in a bid to
arrange a mini-summit that could actually end the ex-Soviet state’s sepa-ratist war.
Merkel’s office said she stressed that Poroshenko’s attempt to convene a four-way leadership meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana on Thursday would succeed only if the warring sides committed themselves more to an existing truce.
“The chancellor expressed concern about the continuing tensions and the humanitarian situation in the east of Ukraine,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
Merkel added that talks in Astana that would also include French Presi-dent Francois Hollande should only
go ahead only if they made “concrete progress”.
The four nations’ foreign ministers will meet in Berlin on Monday to make what Poroshenko hopes are final pre-parations for Astana.
But Merkel signalled to Poroshenko on Saturday that she thought such a meeting may be premature.
“A substantial coming together of positions on a ceasefire and the esta-blishment of a demarcation line are needed,” said Seibert.
The German spokesman added that a more concrete decision on Astana could be made “after discussions planned in the coming days”.
Putin and Poroshenko themselves have rarely spoken since agreeing to
a September 5 truce that was meant
to calm a pro-Russian mutiny in eas-tern Ukraine in which more than
4,700 people have now lost their
That deal was followed by 1,300 more deaths and renewed independence claims by Ukraine’s two separatist pro-vinces.
Yet both Merkel and Hollande – the main mediators in one of Europe’s worst wars in decades – still view the tattered pact as the only viable way out of the crisis.
The pro-Russian rebels have
dismissed the meaning of any nego-tiations about the conflict that exclu-ded their own their representatives.