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Merkel, Putin Hold Talks In Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin walls in Moscow on May 10.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was still no genuine cease-fire in Ukraine, where fighting continues despite a shaky truce deal reached in February in Minsk.

Speaking alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Moscow on May 10, Merkel called for diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine despite "differences" between the West and Russia.

Merkel reiterated her calls to Putin to use his influence with pro-Russian separatists to end the conflict.

More than 6,100 people have died in the fighting between government forces and pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

She also urged "decision-makers" in rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine to allow Ukrainian humanitarian aid convoys into the region.

Merkel said the meeting provided both leaders an opportunity to discuss "bilateral relations, the relations between Russia and the EU...and the development and support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Putin said the peace process in eastern Ukraine was progressing despite difficulties.

"With all the problems in east Ukraine, it has nevertheless become quieter," he said, adding that direct dialogue between the Ukrainian government and the separatists was crucial for peace.

Merkel and French President Francois Hollande helped broker the Minsk cease-fire deal on February 12 but it has been violated many times.

Both sides report small numbers of casualties on an almost daily basis.

Merkel arrived in the Russian capital earlier on May 10.

Merkel, like other western leaders, skipped the massive May 9 parade organized in the Russian capital to mark 70 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II due to Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, Merkel and Putin laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, Interfax, and Reuters
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