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8 Feb, 2015 11:32

Ukraine crisis: Putin, Poroshenko, Hollande, Merkel voice plans for Minsk meeting

A 'Normandy Four' meeting may be held in the Belarus capital as early as Wednesday, the German government said, following a phone call between Vladimir Putin, Petro Poroshenko, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande.

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany held a joint telephone call this morning, the German government says.

"In [the call] they worked further on a package of measures in the context of their efforts on a comprehensive settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine," Steffen Seibert, Germany’s government spokesperson, said in a statement.

"This work will be continued tomorrow in Berlin with the goal of holding a 'Normandy Format' summit on Wednesday in Minsk," he added.

Signatories of last year's Minsk deal, including representatives of the OSCE, Russia and Ukraine and rebel forces would join the meeting in Minsk.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said the meeting will take place "if by then we manage to agree our positions, which we have been discussing very intensively in recent days."

Hopes for breakthrough: Moscow talks on Ukraine 'constructive,' joint doc 'possible'

The plan was also confirmed by President Petro Poroshenko's press service who said the leaders hope the talks will lead to "a swift and unconditional” ceasefire on both sides.

The phone call follows Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande’s visit to Moscow, where they attempted to hammer out a peace plan with Vladimir Putin.

Their surprise visits to the capitals of Ukraine and Russia, with new peace proposals, were announced while US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Kiev, speaking of possible weapons supplies to Ukrainian government troops.

Political analysts believe the dispute inside the US on whether to arm Ukraine could actually trigger the Franco-German peace initiative, because Europe is reluctant to have a full-blown war on its doorstep.

The details of the Franco-German peace initiative have not been disclosed, though Francois Hollande said on Saturday the Franco-German peace initiative would feature a 50- to 70-kilometer demilitarized zone on each side of the current line dividing militia-held and Kiev-controlled territories.

French President Hollande calls for broader autonomy for E.Ukraine

Calling on Kiev to grant east Ukraine more powers, Hollande said the plan could be “one of the last chances” for peace in Ukraine.

Angela Merkel also ruled out the option of arming Ukrainian army as a possible solution to the crisis. "I understand the debate [on weapons supplies] but I believe that more weapons will not lead to the progress Ukraine needs. I really doubt that," she said.

The spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, would only describe the deal as “constructive.”