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New Ukraine peace talks fail—Kiev envoy

/ 08:48 AM February 01, 2015
People carry their belongings as they walk to a bus to leave the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. Fighting between government and Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine has intensified in recent days as rebels seek to encircle the town of Debaltseve, which hosts a strategically important railway hub. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

People carry their belongings as they walk to a bus to leave the town of Debaltseve, Ukraine, Saturday, January 31, 2015. Fighting between government and Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine has intensified in recent days as rebels seek to encircle the town of Debaltseve, which hosts a strategically important railway hub. AP

MINSK, Belarus – Peace talks to thrash out a truce agreement between pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine ended without a deal Saturday, Kiev’s representative at the talks in Minsk said.

Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma told Interfax Ukraine news agency the talks had been “thwarted” after top rebel leaders stayed away and their negotiators refused to discuss a plan for an immediate ceasefire.

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Kuchma accused the insurgents’ representatives of also putting forward “ultimatums” at the four-hour talks without giving any more details.

The negotiator for the rebel Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, however, blamed Kiev for causing the collapse of the talks and said insurgent leaders would only sign a deal if Kiev’s forces halt fire first, Russian news wires reported.

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The sit-down in the Belarussian capital was aimed at halting fierce battles between government forces and separatists that have claimed scores of lives in recent days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a three-way phone call, urging the warring factions to agree a ceasefire at peace talks, the Kremlin said.

Fighting is focused on the strategic transport hub of Debaltseve, some 50 kilometres (35 miles) from rebel bastion Donetsk.

Ukaine’s defence minister on Saturday said the rebels have taken “partial” control of the town, but Kiev denies separatist claims that they have surrounded some 8,000 Ukrainian troops.

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TAGS: Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Kiev, Moscow, Peace Talks, pro-Russian rebels Donetsk People’s Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin
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