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Contact Group on Ukraine to meet Friday in Minsk

The Contact Group on Ukraine will meet in the Belarusian capital Minsk's President Hotel on September 5, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry reported Thursday.

"Minsk is prepared to receive participants of the talks of the ?ontact Group - representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5," ministry spokesman Dmitry Mironchik said.

"Media representatives accredited to cover this event are invited to the official photo session at 1pm [10am UTC] to President Hotel," Mironchik said.

The latest talks of the Russia - Ukraine - European Union contact group were held in Minsk behind closed doors on September 1. Media representatives were only allowed to attend the start of the meeting.

The Ukrainian side at the talks is represented by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Russia is represented by its ambassador in Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, and the OSCE by Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics' representatives Andrei Purgin and Alexei Karyakin will also take part in the meeting.

Sitation in Ukraine's south-east

The south-eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been the scene of fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias as the Ukrainian armed forces have been conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums and now call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics.

Kiev's operation, conducted since mid-April, has employed armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Hundreds of civilians have lost their lives in it. Many buildings have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine's war-torn south-east.

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a seven-item plan to settle the crisis in Ukraine after a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday.

[Source: Itar Tass, Minsk, 04Sep14]

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