Foreign ministers call for rapid de-escalation and ceasefire in Ukraine
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius (2L) attends a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L), German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2R) and Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin (3R) during a meeting on Ukraine, on June 23, 2015 in Paris. AFP photoForeign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany called June 23 for a "rapid de-escalation" and "immediate ceasefire" in eastern Ukraine following crisis talks in Paris.
"We expressed our serious concerns regarding the security situation in Donbass," the ministers said, referring to the war-torn region in eastern Ukraine.
"We call for rapid de-escalation and an immediate ceasefire that would allow progress in the political, humanitarian and socio-economic fields," added the statement, released by hosting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The ministers came together for the Paris talks as the situation appeared to be worsening on the ground in eastern Ukraine, with frequent breaches of a ceasefire deal clinched in February.
Hours before the talks in Paris, Ukrainian rebels accused government forces of killing three civilians while Kyiv's Western-backed military command meanwhile reported the death of one soldier.
The ministers stressed the need for all sides to implement an agreement to withdraw heavy weapons and exchange prisoners.
The four countries also said they were "determined to continue to act in this format" of four-way talks and "do everything they could to make sure commitments are upheld and the crisis is resolved."
The 15-month separatist conflict, which the West accuses Russia of fomenting, has killed 6,500 people and plunged relations between Western powers and Moscow to lows not seen since the Cold War.