November 11, 2019 / 6:29 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Putin, Merkel say Ukraine's Donbass should get special status - Kremlin

(Adds details, German statement)

MOSCOW/BERLIN, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on Monday that Ukraine should give its separatist-led Donbass region a special status set out in Ukrainian law, the Kremlin said.

It gave no further details of the leaders’ discussions on the future of Donbass during a phone call, but agreement on its status would be a step towards convening a four-nation summit on ending five years of conflict in the eastern region.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said last month that Kiev had agreed to grant Donbass special status and let local elections go ahead there. The breakthrough raised hopes that a date would be set for the summit involving Kiev, Moscow, Berlin and Paris.

But, facing street protests by Ukrainians who accused him of yielding to pressure from Moscow, Zelenskiy later said the elections should not be held at gunpoint and must be in accordance with Ukrainian law.

A date for the summit has not yet been set.

The Kremlin said Merkel and Putin discussed preparations for the summit but did not say whether a date had been proposed.

A German government spokeswoman said preparations for the summit were the focus of the conversation and that Putin and Merkel also discussed negotiations on the transit of gas through Ukraine and the situation in Libya and Syria.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow and Michael Nienaber in Berlin; Editing by Timothy Heritage

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