Ukraine peace talks continue in Minsk

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Minsk, Feb 12: The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France adjourned for dinner after more than four hours of talks here on Wednesday in pursuit of a solution to the Ukrainian conflict that has claimed more than 5,000 lives.

The pause followed reports from the Belarus foreign ministry about "advances" in the discussions among Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, Vladimir Putin of Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande.

Ukraine

Talks were set to resume after the break, diplomatic sources said.

"The discussion is very intense," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, adding that it may be Thursday before the final text emerges.

The contact group, comprising the Kiev government and the ethnic-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and mediators from Moscow and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, plan to present the four leaders with a draft document for their approval, according to Russian diplomats in Minsk.

The contact group is said to be finalising technical details of the application of the accords signed here last Sep 19.

"If they stop shooting, when? If they redeploy and withdraw heavy armament, to where, when and what class of arms?," the Russian envoy to Belarus, Alexandr Surikov, said, referring to some of the issues that remain to be settled.

Media outlets say the final document from the Minsk summit will include a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from a yet-to-be-defined security zone.

IANS

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