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Sunday, 8 February 2015

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Ukraine crisis:

Leaders upbeat after Moscow talks

7 Feb BBC

The leaders of Russia, France and Germany have held “constructive and substantive” talks on ending the conflict in Ukraine, diplomats say.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, France's Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met for more than four hours in Moscow.

Mr Hollande and Mrs Merkel had brought with them a peace proposal details on which have not been released.Russia is accused of arming pro-Russian separatists - a claim it denies.

The Kremlin also rejects claims by Ukraine and the West that its regular troops are fighting alongside the rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.Clashes have left nearly 5,400 people dead since April, the UN says.

A September ceasefire, signed in Minsk in Belarus, has failed to stop the violence. Since then the rebels have seized more ground, raising alarm in Kiev and among Ukraine's backers.

There was no joint press conference or statement from the Russian, German and French leaders after such a high-profile Kremlin meeting.

Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande left for the airport straight away. But if there was no breakthrough, there was also no reakdown.Comments from officials from all three countries had clearly been co-ordinated.

In Moscow, Paris and Berlin they all described the talks as substantive and constructive.

They all noted that the three leaders, plus the president of Ukraine, would confer again by phone. And they all said work would continue on a possible blueprint for a deal, based on the French and German initiative, with added proposals from President Poroshenko and President Putin.

The fact that few details have been made public is probably positive. It suggests this is an attempt to negotiate seriously, without rhetoric and out of the public eye. But it also means we do not really know what is on the table, how far apart the various parties are and how fragile this latest mission to bring peace to Ukraine might be.The peace proposal Mr Hollande and Mrs Merkel took to Moscow on Friday was crafted with the Ukrainian government.Russia's Dmitry Peskov said after Friday's talks that work was continuing on a joint document.

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