‘Last chance’ Ukraine peace talks to start in Minsk

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
By Paul Martin

February 11, 2015

Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany are expected to gather in Minsk, Belarus, for what is widely viewed as a last attempt to stop the violence in Eastern Ukraine. The talks come as deaths continue to pile up in the civil war-torn nation.

Wednesday’s meeting in Minsk has drawn worldwide attention, with some 400 journalists covering the event. Even on Wednesday morning there was no certainty that the talks would actually go as planned.

“There are a number of problems which remain to be resolved … but it is very likely to go ahead,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio. He added that “it is really a last chance negotiation.”

Later it was confirmed by the office of French President Francois Hollande that both he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were going to Minsk for the talks. The Kremlin officially confirmed that President Vladimir Putin will participate in the meeting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is going to Minsk as well, said he was certain that the talks would result in a political settlement of the conflict.

“The experts are working. There is considerable progress,” the minister said, declining to reveal any details of the draft agreement.

A Russian diplomatic source told Reuters that there was 70 percent chance that that the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany would reach an agreement.

“The presidents aren’t traveling for no reason,” the source said.

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