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Ukraine, France, Germany Hold Talks    04/16 06:10


   PARIS (AP) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is holding talks on 
Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela 
Merkel amid growing tensions with Russia, which has deployed troops at the 
border with the country.

   Zelenskyy is traveling to Paris to meet with Macron during a working lunch 
at the Elysee presidential palace. Both heads of state will then talk via 
videoconference with Merkel, Macron's office said.

   The talks come as Ukraine and the West have sounded alarms in recent weeks 
about the concentration of troops along Russia's border, a buildup that the 
U.S. and NATO have described as the largest since 2014.

   In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Zelenskyy said "it's time 
to stop talking and to make decisions."

   He said Friday's talks notably aim at discussing security issues. "Europe's 
security is depending on Ukraine's security," he said, adding his country is 
seeking support from the European Union and the NATO alliance.

   "Our goal ... is to de-escalate tensions," a French official at the French 
presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the talks, said.

   "All the work we're doing is in support of Ukraine's sovereignty," the 
official said.

   More than 14,000 people have died in seven years of fighting between 
Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that erupted 
after Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Efforts to reach 
a political settlement have stalled, and violations of a shaky truce have 
become increasingly frequent in recent weeks across Ukraine's eastern 
industrial heartland known as the Donbas.

   Zelenskyy said Thursday after chairing a meeting of Ukraine's security 
council that the discussions in Paris are important for preparing the so-called 
"Normandy format" talks involving the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and 

   Their last meeting in Paris in December 2019 helped ease tensions but failed 
to make any progress on a political settlement.

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