Germany calls for 'constructive' Ukraine talks
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for "constructive" efforts to resolve the protracted Ukraine crisis as he convened a fresh round of international talks on the conflict.
"We can be happy that the ceasefire in place since September 1 is holding," he told reporters as the meeting bringing together the top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany kicked off on the outskirts of Berlin.
"The situation has visibly calmed down in eastern Ukraine."
Steinmeier called the progress "good but insufficient".
The September 1 deal was unexpectedly signed after a series of broken ceasefires left world leaders scrambling for a way out of a conflict that has killed more than 8,000 people and even further eroded the West's relations with the Kremlin.
The trust-building pact has sharply de-escalated the violence but it remains fragile in a conflict which has claimed more than 8,000 lives over the past 18 months.
The chief monitor for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Ertugrul Apakan, said this week that the ceasefire was "largely holding" but that the situation remains "volatile".
Sticking points remain the withdrawal of heavy weapons, including tanks, artillery and mortars, and the organisation of local elections, which have now been pushed back to next year.
"We are behind on our timetable," Steinmeier said.
"We have difficult tasks ahead, in particular regarding the political process."
Steinmeier said the talks Friday would cover the preparation of the elections in eastern Ukraine, including the security situation required to hold them.
© 2015 AFP