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Russian FM Holds Talks With Ukraine, U.S., German Counterparts


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks with his counterparts from Ukraine, Germany, and the United States about the situation in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov held separate talks via phone on July 18 with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, calling for Ukrainian forces to "to begin the demilitarization" of the southeastern village of Shyrokyne, near the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Lavrov said he told his three counterparts that Russian-backed separatists had already withdrawn from the area, which is near the Azov Sea.

Lavrov also reportedly called on Klimkin to "resolve questions concerning the constitutional reform project," aimed at offering more autonomy to the rebel-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

More than 6,500 people have been killed in the fighting between Ukrainian and separatist forces since April 2014.

The Ukrainian military said on July 18 that "the situation has deteriorated sharply" in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov and Kerry also discussed the situation in Syria.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax
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