German Chancellor Angel Merkel to Visit Ukraine on Saturday: Ceasefire May Figure in Talks

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 20, 2014 1:14 PM EST

Strife-torn Ukraine will have a high-profile visit by Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday. During the visit, Ms Merkel will hold talks with Ukraine leaders and discuss the current issues, including support to Kiev in its struggle against pro-Russian rebels.

Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (centre R) and German President Joachim Gauck (centre L) pose with the Germany's coach Joachim Loew (front R) and his players after Germany beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014.

This was carried in a Reuters report that quoted both German and Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine Independence Day

The visit assumes special significance as it comes on the eve of Ukraine's Independence Day.  The German chancellor will hold meetings with President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk.

Some mayors of Ukrainian cities will also get the opportunity to meet with the German leader, the chancellor's office said. Ms Merkel's office said the current situation in Ukraine as well as the relationship with Russia will be at the centre of talks. The discussions will also cover options for supporting Ukraine in the current crisis.

Germany recently hosted the diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Berlin. The foreign ministers of Germany and France were also present. The talks failed to make any progress towards a ceasefire between the Ukraine government forces and separatists.

The ongoing conflict in the Russian-speaking Ukraine east has reached a critical phase with Kiev and the West waiting to see Russia's response in terms of any use of troops amassed along the border to support the besieged rebels. 

Deal on Aid

Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister hinted that a deal has been reached for the delivery of Russian humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine, following the Berlin talks. But Sergei Lavrov admitted little progress on a ceasefire.

The Russian aid convoy of 270 trucks had been waiting at the Russian town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky since Aug 14. The town is closer to the border post controlled by pro-Russian rebels. The Ukraine government is wary that the convoy is a cover for supplying arms to the pro-Russia separatists.  

Germany on Ceasefire

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign minister of Germany, sounded optimistic that the recent foreign minister level talks will usher in a ceasefire and check more casualties in the future. He noted that the Berlin discussions were tough. But progress has been made on some points.

The Ukraine conflict has so far killed 2,000 civilians and other combatants since April when Ukraine's government deployed troops to crush the uprising by pro-Russia rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The recent weeks saw further escalation of military operations to drive out the rebels from these regions.  

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(Photo: Reuters / Guido Bergmann)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (centre R) and German President Joachim Gauck (centre L) pose with the Germany's coach Joachim Loew (front R) and his players after Germany beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014.
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