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Merkel, Hollande, Putin, Poroshenko renew support for ceasefire in Ukraine


President Petro PoroshenkoThe leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine renewed their support for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday following phone discussions, the French presidency said in a statement.

“Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko reaffirmed their commitment to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine,” and the “concerted withdrawal without delay of heavy weapons,” the Elysee Palace said.

The leaders spoke for two hours in their first discussions since meeting in Paris on October 2.

Tensions have risen recently after a Ukrainian soldier and two civilians were killed in the pro-Russian separatist Donbass region.

The four leaders emphasised the need to follow through on the Minsk II peace accords over the coming year, including preparations for local elections in Donbass at the start of 2017.

Foreign ministers from the four countries are due to meet to discuss the peace process in greater detail by early February, the Elysee added.

The Minsk accords finalised in early 2015 effectively brought hostilities to an end after more than 9,000 people were killed in the civil war that broke out the previous April.

However, a ceasefire agreed in September remains fragile and had to be renewed yet again on Tuesday after the recent killings.

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