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Divisions exposed as Russia, Ukraine leaders hold first meeting

Update: December, 10/2019 - 11:26

PARIS — Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday held their first face-to-face talks at a summit in Paris which agreed some measures to de-escalate the Ukraine conflict but clinched no major breakthrough on ending the five-year war.

Host French President Emmanuel Macron, joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hailed the progress after some eight hours of talks at the Elysee Palace on ending the conflict between pro-Moscow separatists and Ukrainian forces in the east of Ukraine.

Four-way talks at the Elysee Palace were followed by the first ever bilateral meeting between wily ex-KGB agent Putin – in power for two decades – and ex-comedian Zelensky who won the presidency this year.

A joint statement by all four parties said they agreed to implement a full ceasefire and proceed with a new withdrawal of forces from conflict zones by March 2020.

Putin hailed the outcome as an "important step" towards a de-escalation in the east of Ukraine.

But Zelensky candidly admitted that despite the impressive symbolism of his first meeting with Putin and the first such four-way summit in three years, he had wanted more.

"Many questions were tackled and my counterparts have said it is a very good result for a first meeting. But I will be honest – it is very little, I wanted to resolve a larger number of problems," he said after the talks in Paris. — AFP

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