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Merkel Urges Russia To Use 'Influence' To Push Separatists On Ukraine Peace Talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to push Ukraine's separatists to negotiate.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Russia to use its influence on separatists in eastern Ukraine to implement a cease-fire plan aimed at ending the conflict.

In a statement issued on December 28, the German leader expressed regret that peace negotiators had failed to follow through with a scheduled meeting in Minsk on December 26.

The contact group of negotiators includes representatives from Ukraine, Russia, pro-Russian separatists, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The group held an initial meeting on December 24, but failed to agree on any measures except a prisoner swap between Ukraine and the separatists that took place three days later.

Merkel, who had a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on December 27, praised the successful swap but said more needed to be done to restart stalled truce talks.

According to the statement, the German leader "appealed to the Russian government to use its influence on the separatists to this end."

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters