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No guarantees on French-German initiative on Ukraine - Merkel
February 8, 2015, 8:56 am

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday there were no guarantees of success of a French-German initiative, proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to solve conflict in east Ukraine.

"After meetings with the Ukrainian and Russian leaders, we are still uncertain we will succeed in addressing the conflict," Merkel said in a speech before Munich Security Conference (MSC).

However, she added, more efforts were needed to solve the crisis "because we owe it to the Ukrainian people that we provide peace and security for them." Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met with Putin in Moscow yesterday, shortly after holding lengthy talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev regarding an initiative to ending the armed struggle in east Ukraine.

The Moscow summit did not result in any agreement, but the three leaders agreed to continue working on a peaceful settlement that could take stock of the Russian suggestions.

Merkel, on the American plan to supply the Ukrainian army with weapons, said the conflict could not be solved militarily. "We should be united in our positions and ... revive the Minsk (ceasefire) agreement." Germany focuses on solving the conflict diplomatically, she said. Merkel added she understood demands to supply Ukrainian army with weapons "but there are doubts that military options will succeed in solving this crisis." Europe and Russia should agree on security of Europe, underlined the chancellor.

Merkel, meanwhile, said the international community should step up efforts to confront terrorism. "We stand with the vast majority of Muslims who have no relation with terrorism, and whose religion is used to meet the (terrorim) objectives," she said.

On Afghanistan, Merkel said German forces might stay in the country after 2016. "After 2016, the security sector in Afghanistan will need international aid not only financial aid." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on the other hand, said the summit talks between Merkel, Hollande and Putin "is a good foundation" to end the crisis in east Ukraine.

"We think these talks form a good foundation with a relative optimism to find a solution to this crisis," he told the MSC. Lavrov called for holding talks that would be fair for all parties, without blaming or warning the other.

He blamed the US for undermining relations between Russia and the West. Lavrov criticized the US regarding deployment of anti-missile system in Europe. US Vice-President Joe Biden, taking the offensive front, held Russian President Putin for the security crisis in Europe.

Addressing the MSC, Biden said "we made" many achievements with Russia up until 2014 but Putin's policies paved way for developments in Europe. He welcomed the German-French initiative. Biden said US President Barack Obama and himself believed in necessity of saving people.

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