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Lavrov: Normandy Quartet ministers agree to intensify work of Contact Group on Ukraine

Foreign ministers of the "Normandy Quartet" have agreed in their statement to support an urgent task of withdrawing heavy weapons from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday after Berlin's meeting in the so-called "Normandy format" comprising Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.

"We have ended a regular meeting of foreign ministers. We have discussed the steps which could be taken within this format for stimulating movement forward in resolving the Ukrainian crisis," Lavrov said. "The key decision adopted today and reflected in the joint statement is a powerful support to the task of urgent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact, which was stipulated in the Minsk agreements, in particular in the Minsk memorandum of September 19."

"It is exactly the same Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed in his letter to (Ukraine's President) Pyotr Poroshenko on January 15," he said. "We hope support of the initiative by the foreign ministers in "Normandy format" will allow to implement it."

"LPR and DPR (self-proclaimed People's Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk respectively - eds. TASS) have already backed a timetable for withdrawal of heavy weapons in line with the Russian president's initiative," the Russian foreign minister said. "We are hopeful, and we have reiterated again today, that the Ukrainian leadership will do the same. Moreover, the French and German foreign ministers have supported this approach.".

"We have agreed a powerful support to the pull-back of weapons in Ukraine," Lavrov said. "Besides, a recommendation was adopted that the Contact Group should intensify its work and set up a necessary number of working sub-groups."

"So I think this meeting was very useful," he said.

To continue contacts at the experts' level

Foreign ministers of the so-called "Normandy Quartet" comprising Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France have agreed to continue contacts at the experts' level for determining the situation "on the ground," Russian Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"We have agreed to continue contacts at the experts' level so that they will coordinate their efforts with developments 'on the ground'," Lavrov said. "Not everything depends on the 'Normandy format.' We have just voiced a political support on the issues I have mentioned."

"The main thing is that those talks will be implemented unmediated 'on the ground,' directly between representatives from Kiev and militias. Our chief priority is to start withdrawing heavy weapons.".

Summit in Astana to be in demand if progress emerges in Ukraine's conflict

Summit in Kazakhstan's capital Astana will be in demand if the progress begins to emerge on pulling back heavy weapons and on ceasing fire in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday after the end of foreign ministers' talks of the "Normandy Quartet."

"A joint opinion is that if progress is seen in the end of hostilities, in ceasing fire and in stopping shelling of residential areas and if there emerges progress in withdrawal of heavy weapons, then the summit in Astana will be in demand," Lavrov said.

Russia sees no need in publishing appendices to Minsk accords

Russia can see no need in publishing appendices to the Minsk agreements which were not made public, Russian Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the end of foreign minister's meeting on Ukraine in the Normandy format on Thursday.

"There is no special necessity in this," Lavrov said. "Those unpublished agreements are well known to the participants of today's talks. So all the decisions we have adopted today are stemming from recognition of those agreements.".

[Source: Itar Tass, Berlin, 22Jan15]

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