Date
21 August 2017
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will present their peace plan to Kiev before taking it to Moscow. Photo: Reuters
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will present their peace plan to Kiev before taking it to Moscow. Photo: Reuters

German, French leaders in last-ditch bid to resume Ukraine talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are traveling to Moscow with a plan to resume stalled talks on Ukraine.

The two leaders will first present the proposal to the government in Kiev, Reuters reported Friday.

The trip comes as rebels advanced on a railway hub held by Ukrainian troops after launching an offensive that scuppered a five-month-old ceasefire.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry visited Kiev on Thursday, with Washington moving toward a decision soon on arming Ukraine.

He had no plans to go to Moscow and was not involved in the Franco-German initiative, although he supports it.

Moscow said it hopes talks with Merkel and Hollande would be “constructive”.

German government sources said the key problem for resuming peace talks is that the current front line no longer tallies with what was agreed at talks in Minsk, Belarus, last year.

One idea is that a new attempt at a ceasefire should take in the current front line, which reflects rebel gains.

For talks to begin anew, Kiev would have to accept that the separatists now control several hundred square kilometers more than agreed in Minsk, without Kiev having to give up its claim to these areas as part of the Ukrainian state, the report said.

In the end, the goal of the peace process should be the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, according to sources.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Kiev would not consider any peace plan that casts doubt on the nation’s territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence.

Peace talks collapsed on Saturday in Belarus and European leaders are expected to consider new sanctions against Moscow next week.

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RC/RA

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