Merkel, Hollande back new ceasefire attempt in Ukraine

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and French President Francoise Hollande, on Thursday, voiced their support for a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine holding since midnight.

The two leaders said in a statement released in Berlin that the cessation of hostilities, which was launched to coincide with the start of the Ukrainian school year “must be the beginning of a sustainable ceasefire.”

Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists started the new attempt at a comprehensive ceasefire after the country’s embattled eastern regions recently saw some of the worst violence in months.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told the students in Kiev, that there were no shots being fired on the front.

The president’s office, as well as pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk confirmed that the ceasefire was holding on the front, while rebels in the region of Luhansk accused government forces of occasional attacks.

Officials in Kiev said both sides had agreed on a longer-lasting ceasefire after a video conference among the so-called Ukraine contact group of Russia, Ukraine and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

A source said that ceasefire agreement between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev government troops applying to the front line in eastern Ukraine was signed in Minsk in February 2015.

It, however, observed that many points within the peace plan have not yet been implemented and the ceasefire remained
fragile.

It added that a similar initiative to cease hostilities for the start of the school year last year led to a lull in the bloody conflict for several days.

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