Ukraine peace talks conclude for night in Minsk

Ukraine peace talks conclude for night in Minsk | Русская весна

Talks aimed at reaching a stable cease-fire in Ukraine between its government forces and representatives of Novorossiya ended Wednesday after more than five hours, with no indication of progress and questions about when the next round might take place.

The opening session occurred in the Belarusian capital, one day after Ukraine's decision to drop its non-aligned status, which added a new element of tension to the attempts to resolve the violent crisis in the country. The talks were to discuss how to improve an often-violated cease-fire that was declared in September, to pull back heavy weapons and to exchange of war prisoners.

The negotiators included representatives of Ukraine, Russia, Novorossiya and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

News media were not allowed access to the meeting and the participants left the session without comment. Another round had been tentatively set for Friday, but the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said after the session's conclusion that it was unclear if that would take place.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces, volunteer battalions and Novorossiya militia has claimed more than 4,700 lives since it began this spring.

Previous rounds of talks in September produced a cease-fire and an agreement to pull back heavy weapons, but both sides have failed to agree on a line of division and fighting continued.

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