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Ukraine, Russian-Backed Rebels Agree To Withdraw Weapons

Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and Europe reached a long-awaited agreement on the withdrawal of tanks and other weapons from the frontline in eastern Ukraine.

"This is a document that opens a path to peace, a path to an end of violence and attacks," Russian negotiator Azamat Kulmukhametov said late September 29.

The deal supplements a broad agreement signed in February aimed at ending the conflict between the Western-aligned Ukrainian government and Russia-backed rebels in the east.

Martin Sajdik, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's representative at the peace talks, said the agreement will start in two days and take 39 days to carry out. It covers "the withdrawal of tanks, mortars and artillery of less than 100 millimiter caliber to a distance of 15 kilometers," he said.

He said the Ukrainian envoy Leonid Kuchma has signed the deal, while separatist representative Denis Pushilin said the leaders of the self-styled Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, who were not present at talks, would sign the agreement by October 1.

The OSCE will monitor the withdrawal of the weapons, Sajdik said.

Weapons of over 100 millimeter caliber have already been withdrawn from the frontline in accordance with the ceasefire deal brokered in Minsk in February.

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, who negotiated the Minsk deal, are meeting in Paris September 30 to try to push forward a political settlement for eastern Ukraine, where the fighting has killed more than 7,900 people since it began in April 2014.

The cease-fire declared as part of the February agreement was regularly violated by both sides until they declared a new truce on September 1, which has largely held.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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