Friday 22 November 2019

Russian and Ukrainian leaders hold talks in Paris

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting the leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany on Friday in a revived European push to bring peace to eastern Ukraine.

The long-awaited summit in Paris on Friday is being overshadowed by international concerns about Russia's military intervention in Syria this week.

But a senior French diplomat expressed guarded optimism about the Ukraine talks, which are expected to address more autonomy for eastern regions, upcoming Ukrainian elections, possible amnesty for separatists, withdrawing weapons and securing the border.

Mr Putin arrived in Paris for talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time since they worked out a peace deal in Minsk in February.

That accord has been troubled, but there have been signs of progress in recent weeks, including a breakthrough agreement this week on withdrawing tanks and many weapons.

The conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 8,000 and displaced two million since April 2014.

"It's a long way before the crisis is resolved, but there are indications that give hope that it can be dealt with," Mr Putin said.

The Ukrainian delegation is hoping for progress on the status of the eastern Donbass region and progress on a dispute over regional elections planned for October 25 and other elections the rebels are proposing on October 18 and November 1.

French President Francois Hollande, in proposing the meeting last month, praised recent progress around the Minsk plan.

If that continues, he said, "then I will argue for lifting the sanctions".

EU sanctions and a subsequent Russian embargo have hurt many European companies.

PA Media

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