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Ukraine cease-fire deal due Friday

By Agencies in Kiev and Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-05 08:42

Four groups to sign agreement in Minsk, paving way for peace

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said a cease-fire plan aimed at ending the nearly five-month-long conflict in the east of the country would be signed on Friday.

"Tomorrow in Minsk a document will be signed providing for the gradual introduction of the Ukrainian peace plan," he said on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Wales on Thursday. "It is very important that the first element provides for a cease-fire."

Representatives of Kiev, Moscow, the separatist rebels and the pan-European security group, the OSCE, are due to meet in the Belarussian capital on Friday.

A senior rebel leader involved in talks with Kiev said on Thursday that if Ukrainian forces abide by a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, rebel forces might also do so, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

"If there is a real cease-fire on their part, then maybe we will also cease fire," Andrei Purgin, a leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic who is due to hold preliminary peace talks with Kiev in Minsk on Friday, told Interfax. "We will see how they observe their cease-fire."

Poroshenko's announcement follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposed seven-point plan on Wednesday to stop military clashes in southeast Ukraine, which have claimed more than 2,600 lives since March.

The plan calls for an end to active offensive operations by armed forces and armed militia groups in southeastern Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk areas. It also presses for the withdrawal of the Ukrainian armed forces to a distance that would make it impossible to fire on populated areas using artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems.

Meanwhile, Poroshenko discussed closer ties with NATO at a meeting on Thursday with US President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that statements by officials in Kiev that Ukraine will be seeking to join NATO are "a blatant attempt to derail all the efforts" to seek a peaceful solution to the fighting.

Lavrov noted that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had announced a renewed bid for Ukraine to join NATO just as diplomatic efforts picked up to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine and that the prime minister had also come out against Putin's plan.

"Those who stand on the warpath ... are taking on an enormous responsibility, not only for continuing the bloodshed, but also for undermining the legitimacy of the actions of the Ukrainian president," Lavrov said in televised comments.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news briefing in Beijing that China hopes the seven-point plan proposed by Putin helps to create favorable conditions for the political solution of the crisis.

"China has always called on both sides of the clashes in Ukraine to cease fire and conduct an inclusive dialogue in the hope of solving the crisis in a political way," Qin said.

Ukraine cease-fire deal due Friday

 Ukraine cease-fire deal due Friday

A craftsman from a model-making company applies final touches to a full-sized model of a Typhoon fighter jet at the Celtic Manor Hotel, ahead of the NATO summit, in Newport, Wales, on Wednesday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on the sidelines of the summit on Thursday that a cease-fire plan will be signed on Friday to end the five-month-long conflict. Leon Neal / Pool / Reuters

(China Daily 09/05/2014 page12)

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