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'Ceasefire deal' reported for eastern Ukraine


Ukraine

'Ceasefire deal' reported for eastern Ukraine

A ceasefire deal has reportedly been reached for eastern Ukraine as diplomatic efforts intensify ahead of a leaders’ summit in Belarus.

Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, pro-Russian rebels and the OSCE security watchdog holding preliminary talks in Minsk are also said to have agreed on a monitoring mechanism and a scheme for the withdrawal of heavy weapons.

The apparent breakthrough by the so-called Contact Group is being reported by the TASS news agency.

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France are due to meet in Minsk on Wednesday.

There has been little optimism ahead of the summit amid intense fighting between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists.

But France’s President Francois Hollande has been upbeat, insisting he is going to Minsk with the firm desire to reach a peace deal, pursuing an initiative with Germany’s Angela Merkel.

“We must do everything and until the very last moment of this meeting, the Chancellor and myself will push for an agreement, a comprehensive settlement,” Hollande said.

Last September’s Minsk ceasefire deal failed to bring an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

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