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Ukraine, Rebels Hold Talks On Shaky Truce

Ukrainian and separatist representatives have met in Minsk for the first time since the two sides signed a peace deal in February.

The two sides plus officials from Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held closed-door talks on May 6 to discuss ways to shore up the faltering truce in eastern Ukraine.

Both Kyiv and the pro-Moscow rebels accuse each other of continuing to violate the cease-fire.

Kyiv's representative, former President Leonid Kuchma, said after the meeting that it had been a "serious step towards the political resolution" of the conflict but stressed the need to ensure that the shooting stops completely.

Kuchma told journalists that the separatist representatives had been "constructive."

Russian representative Azamat Kulmukhametov said the talks had given hope for a "political solution" to the fighting.

The meeting also set up expert groups that are expected to start looking into the next steps contained in the peace plan.

OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini said that the first of the groups would begin work on May 19.

The talks came as Ukraine said five of its soldiers were killed in the east over the past 24 hours.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

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