France proposes talks with Ukraine, Russia, Germany in September

A Western-brokered ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Russia separatists (pictured) has been punctuated by deadly incidents (AFP Photo/Aleksei Filippov)
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Paris (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande on Monday offered to host talks on the situation in Ukraine with German, Russian and Ukrainian leaders as a February truce finally appeared to be holding.

He told reporters the talks could take place in Paris before the United Nations' General Assembly opens at the end of September "so that we can evaluate the process."

The Western-brokered ceasefire between Kiev and pro-Russia separatists had been punctuated by deadly incidents on an almost daily basis.

But Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Saturday the truce had been upheld last week for the first time.

He said soldiers were still perishing in the conflict zone in the east by stepping on landmines or in car crashes, but none had died in combat, although pro-Russian rebels claimed a civilian had been killed.

According to sources close to Hollande, the French leader will hold telephone talks with Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening.

The four countries' foreign ministers will then meet in Berlin on Saturday.

Hollande said several ceasefire commitments still had to be honoured, such as holding local elections in Ukraine and implementing reforms granting more autonomy to two breakaway pro-Russian areas in the east.

"If this process is successful, then I will ask for sanctions to be lifted," Hollande said, referring to penalties implemented by the European Union and United States on Russia for backing rebels in Ukraine.

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