Putin, Merkel at odds over Ukraine

Moscow/Milan : German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have major differences over the origin and causes of the conflict in Ukraine, the Kremlin said following talks between the two leaders, reports AFP.

“There are still serious differences concerning the origin of Ukraine’s internal conflict, as well as the root causes of what is currently happening,” Russian news agencies quoted Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. His comments came after the two leaders held what Peskov said was a two-and-a-half-hour meeting late Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe (ASEM) summit in Milan. Merkel had earlier said that it was “first and foremost” Russia’s responsibility to make sure a tenuous ceasefire and peace plan agreed last month between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels “really will be implemented.” The ceasefire reached has repeatedly been violated by both sides.

Progress made on gas deal with Russia: Kiev   Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said progress had been made during talks here on Friday aimed at resolving a dispute over gas supplies from Russia that also threatened deliveries to Europe, reports AFP.

 “We have some progress on the gas issue,” Poroshenko said, adding that the “basic parameters” of a new contract with Russia had been agreed while further discussion on how to finance it was required.

French President Francois Hollande said after meeting Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin that an accord on the gas issue was “within reach.”

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