May 29, 2015 / 3:39 PM / in 3 years

Hollande, Merkel call for rapid implementation of Minsk agreement

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to rapidly implement measures agreed under the Feb.12 Minsk ceasefire, Hollande’s office said in a statement.

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Hollande said he and Merkel had spoken on the phone with Putin early on Friday afternoon and told him they want to see concrete results from four working groups that were set up on May 6 to deal with political, security, economic and humanitarian issues.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin expressed concern in the call over “increasingly frequent shelling by Ukrainian forces of civilian objects that have led to civilian casualties.” It added the leaders exchanged views on potential additional measures that could shore up the fragile ceasefire.

Kremlin spokesman also said the three discussed a schedule for further expert-level meetings aimed at helping to implement the Minsk agreements.

The two western leaders also want progress on respecting the cease-fire and halting the use of heavy weapons, releasing prisoners and restoring economic relations between the zone controlled by separatists and the rest of Ukraine.

Diplomats and officials from the four countries will meet in Paris on Jun.10 to review progress in the Minsk process, the French statement said.

Since the mid-February ceasefire, violence in eastern Ukraine has generally abated, but government forces and separatists accuse one another of violations, and both sides report some casualties almost daily.

A Kiev military spokesman said on Friday that one Ukrainian serviceman had been killed and six others wounded in attacks by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in the last 24 hours.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq in Paris, additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow, Editing by Larry King

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