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Germany Calls On Ukraine, Russia-Backed Separatists To Extend Cease-Fire


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel talk to reporters in Krasndodar on June 28.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called on Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to extend a harvest-related cease-fire, saying it could help pave the way for a political solution.

Gabriel, speaking at a news conference in Krasnodar with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said it did not make sense that the parties to the conflict could enforce a cease-fire during special times but not at other times.

"Strangely enough, it seems to work when both sides have a mutual interest, namely getting the harvest done," Gabriel said. "The question is, why does one have to go back to violating the cease-fire once it's over?"

Gabriel said he realized the two sides were far apart on political issues, such as holding elections in eastern Ukraine, but a solidification of the truce could lead to more progress on those issues.

He said Germany is ready to provide financial aid to improve living conditions for all sides in the Donbas region if the cease-fire could be extended.

Gabriel is expected to meet President Vladimir Putin on June 29, Russian news agencies report.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine over the past three years, despite the Minsk cease-fire agreement signed in February 2015.

Based on reporting by Reuters, TASS, and Interfax