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Kerry, Lavrov Discuss Efforts To Maintain Cease-Fire In Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pressed his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to ensure that Moscow respects the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said.

In a telephone call to Lavrov, Kerry "urged Russia to seize the opportunity of upcoming meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group and its Working Groups to accelerate progress on implementing the Minsk agreements," which were signed in February, said department spokesman John Kirby.

Moscow denies supporting the rebel campaign, but it has agreed to terms that by the end of the year would give Kyiv back control of a 400-kilometer stretch of the Russia-Ukrainian frontier that Russian-backed insurgents allegedly use to smuggle in weapons and tanks.

In the conversation, Lavrov stressed the importance of "establishing a direct dialogue between the [Kyiv] government and the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS

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