Much work needed to improve Ukraine ceasefire, says Germany
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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday that a lot of work was still "urgently needed" to get a ceasefire fully implemented in eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian government forces confront Russian-backed separatists.
Steinmeier, who visits Ukraine next week in an effort to arrange a new high-level meeting between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia, voiced dissatisfaction over slow progress to resolve the conflict in which more than 9,500 people have been killed.
"I think everyone involved ... isn't and can't be satisfied with the implementation of the Minsk agreement," Steinmeier told reporters, referring to a peace accord brokered by leaders of the countries in the Belarussian capital in 2015.
"We have experienced long periods of standstill and when progress has been made, it has been in millimeters. None of us ... can allow or see any benefit in standing on the spot when it comes to implementing the agreement," he said after meeting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
Steinmeier travels to Ukraine next week with his French counterpart to discuss if, and when, a new round of high-level talks among the four powers can be arranged.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week his country would continue to support new talks among the four leaders aimed at ending the fighting.
"With regard to the implementation of the Minsk agreement, we also have to talk about the special status law, the local election law, the amnesty law ... we both know that a lot of work will be necessary to ultimately come together on this point," Steinmeier said.
Steinmeier said concrete progress had to be made before calling a meeting of the four countries.
"We can only do that when we have enough substance to come together at this level. We’re checking that at the moment and we’re working on getting this substance and that’s one of the reasons why I will be in Ukraine," said Steinmeier.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Madeline Chambers; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
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