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  • The latest phase of peace talks has been called off.

    The latest phase of peace talks has been called off. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 December 2014

The latest phase of the Ukrainian peace talks has been suspended.

An important step in the ongoing peace talks between Ukraine's government and pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine scheduled for Friday in Minsk has been canceled, Belarusian officials said.

"There will be no contact group meeting today," Belarusian foreign ministry spokesman Dmitry Mironchik told AFP. He added that nevertheless, "Belarus is always ready to offer [Minsk] as a negotiations venue."

No official reason for the cancellation was provided by the foreign ministry.

The latest talks also included Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The talks began Wednesday, but failed to make significant progress. However, both sides confirmed that after hours of negotiations they did agree to exchange prisoners, involving at least 375 prisoners from both sides. 

The primary goals of the high-level negotiations have been to solidify a lasting cease-fire by agreeing on a withdrawal of heavy weapons from combat areas and a demarcation line between rebels and government troops.

A cease-fire and a long-term peace framework were announced in Minsk in September, but neither has been properly observed by the two sides.

Since the conflict began in eastern Ukraine in April, at least 4,707 people have been killed, according to the U.N.

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