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Putin, Macron agree on chances of Ukraine talks

Tuesday - August 20, 2019 2:18 am , Category : WORLD
Paris, Aug 20 (IANS) The presidents of France and Russia, Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin, agreed on Monday on the "Normandy format" that groups senior representatives of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany to resolve the war in Eastern Ukraine and exchanged views on Syria when jointly meeting press before their talks in Bregancon in southern France.
Russian President Putin is hosted by his French counterpart Macron at the French presidential summer retreat residence in Bregancon, five days before the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Biarritz, a seaside town in southern France, the Xinhua news agency reported.
On Ukraine, Putin said that "there are a number of issues that we need to agree on...But, in my opinion, there is no alternative to the Normandy format. Of course, we will support it."
For his part, Macron said that "there is a real opportunity to put an end to the conflict that has been going on for five years". He added that he expects a four-way summit "in the next few weeks".
The French president refers to the election of Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose points of views, according to him, are "game-changing".
"We will discuss this situation and, perhaps, prepare future meetings with (German) Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and president Zelensky in the Normandy format," he said.
Putin said he has some "cautious optimism" on the subject.
On Syria, Macron said the ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, a city in northwestern Syria, must be respected and he will discuss the constitutional process in Syria with Putin.
Putin said terrorists are venturing out from the demilitarised zone in Syria and trying to redeploy their forces to other regions of the world. "This is very dangerous," he added.

--IANS rs