Germany urges resumption of Ukraine peace talks

Kiev (AFP) –


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called Thursday for the resumption of stalled Ukraine peace talks, after a meeting with French colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian and new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev.

France and Germany have been prime movers behind what is known as the Minsk peace process, bringing in Ukraine and Russia for talks aimed at ending the war with Moscow-backed rebels in the east of Ukraine.

"We are going to take advantage of the moment to relaunch the Minsk peace process... because for the moment we are in an impasse and that is unacceptable," Maas said.

"We are going to continue to try and make peace possible in this country, in the east of Ukraine. After these talks, I am certain it is possible," he said, adding that peace for President Zelensky was the "absolute priority."

Le Drian said the talks in Kiev were "very, very positive."

In a joint statement, Maas and Le Drian urged Moscow to show "the political will and responsibility to restore an atmosphere of confidence (with Kiev) rather than stoke tensions."

"Some gestures are expected from Russia, particularly the release of 24 sailors held illegally," they added.

Earlier this week a Moscow court upheld extending the arrest of 24 Ukrainian sailors seized by Russia off Crimea last year, defying an international tribunal that urged their immediate release.

Zelensky was elected in a landslide in April but Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no sign that he wants a fresh start with Kiev, insisting instead that its up to Ukraine to move first if it wants improved relations.