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Russian, Ukraine, EU Leaders Discussed Local Elections Dispute

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France discussed the contentious issue of holding local elections in separatist eastern Ukraine in a 90-minute telephone conversation September 9, the Kremlin said.

Under the Minsk peace agreement, the separatist regions must conduct local elections by the end of the year "in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the law of Ukraine."

The Russian-backed rebels, however, want to hold local elections on their own terms, which include barring all pro-Ukrainian candidates and holding the polls on days that do not correspond to local elections planned in the rest of Ukraine on October 25.

Ukrainian leaders have warned that any attempt to hold "unlawful" elections in rebel-run areas would violate the February peace deal -- a point on which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande agreed, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office said.

With foreign ministers from the four countries due to meet in Berlin on September 12, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said "the immediate task is to reach an agreement on the date and conditions of local elections in Donbass."

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Interfax