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Ukraine eyes ceasefire extension after diplomatic push

DONETSK: Ukraine looked primed to extend a shaky truce in the conflict-hit east of the country after frantic talks involving the leaders of Russia, France and Germany as a ceasefire deadline neared.
Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to work on “the adoption of an agreement on a bilateral ceasefire between Ukrainian authorities and separatists” following four-way phone talks with Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel, the French presidency said. The deadline for the current truce runs out at 1900 GMT on Monday but violence has rumbled on regardless with no end in sight to months of fighting that has claimed some 450 lives. The Kremlin put a slightly different spin on the discussion, saying only that Putin had “stressed the importance of extending a ceasefire as well as creating a reliable mechanism to control the observance of the truce with an active role of the OSCE.” The statement added that “the leaders spoke out in favour of organising a third round of consultations between representatives of Kiev and southeastern regions” following two inconclusive attempts at dialogue. The Kremlin said that the foreign ministers from the four countries would hold urgent consultations to work out practicalities, while the French statement said Ukraine and Russia’s top diplomats would talk by phone later Monday. 

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