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Merkel Says Ukraine Cease-Fire Not Fully Implemented

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) shakes hand with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk after talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on April 1.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says fighting in eastern Ukraine has been reduced in recent weeks but that the Minsk cease-fire plan has not yet been fully implemented.

Merkel and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said after talks in Berlin on April 1 that Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine were still involved in fighting along the front line.

A cease-fire agreement agreed to in Minsk in February has ended much of the fighting and led to some heavy weapons being pulled back.

But Merkel said all of the heavy weapons held by Ukrainian forces and rebel fighters must be removed from the front line before the next stage of the peace plan can be implemented.

Yatsenyuk said 75 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and many injured since the cease-fire began on February 15.

Merkel also said the details for a 500 million-euro ($550 million) German loan to be granted to Ukraine had not yet been finalized, and she praised Yatsenyuk's government for making "considerable progress" on reforms.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax