Tuesday 17 October 2017

Negotiations 'problematic' in Ukraine as more than 19 troops killed in last 24 hours

The body of a woman killed by recent shelling lies on the ground in the residential sector in the town of Kramatorsk in Ukraine
The body of a woman killed by recent shelling lies on the ground in the residential sector in the town of Kramatorsk in Ukraine

Press Association

There remain "quite a number of problems" in negotiations aimed at ending fighting in eastern Ukraine, according to the French foreign minister.

Hours before a four-way summit in Belarus, Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio it was "very probable" but not certain that French President Francois Hollande would attend.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) speaks to a woman who was injured during firing, at a hospital in Kramatorsk, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) speaks to a woman who was injured during firing, at a hospital in Kramatorsk, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (C) stands near the remains of ammunition during a visit to Kramatorsk, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (C) points at the remains of ammunition during a visit to Kramatorsk, late February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (front row, C) looks at the remains of ammunition during a visit to Kramatorsk, late February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters

Mr Fabius said difficulties remain on the future of embattled eastern Ukraine, guarantees about the Ukraine-Russia border near the area, and the prospects of a possible ceasefire, weapons withdrawal and prisoner exchange.

He said the aim of the talks in Minsk is to win an accord, but "not just one on paper".

Mr Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are set to mediate talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified yesterday as both sides pushed to make territorial gains ahead of the talks.

Fighting continued to rage in eastern Ukraine today.

Shelling rocked a bus station in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, where a reporter saw one body at a bus station and was told by rebel officials that another body had been removed from the scene.

Donetsk city officials said in a statement that three people had been killed overnight.

Mr Poroshenko posted a statement on his website saying he had made an impromptu visit to the war-torn region early today.

"We demand an unconditional peace," he said. "We demand a ceasefire, a withdrawal of all foreign troops, and closing of the border. We will find a compromise within the country."

Mr Poroshenko stopped in the city of Kramatorsk, 30 miles from the front line, where Kiev says 16 people were killed and 48 wounded in a rocket strike yesterday.

Ahead of the top-level summit, representatives of the separatists, Russia, Ukraine and the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe met for talks in Minsk.

Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov said it was "too early to say" if any progress had been achieved.

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