Russia’s Putin says he’s ready for talks with Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaks during the EU-Ukraine summit press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 8, 2019. President Tusk, along with President Juncker will represent the EU at the EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev on Monday.( AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s willing to sit down with Ukraine’s new president for talks to settle a deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Putin responded Thursday to Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s proposal to hold talks with the mediation of U.S., British, French and German leaders, saying that he is open to the idea. He said, however, that the talks are unlikely to go ahead before Ukraine elects a new parliament later this month.

Zelenskiy, who took office in May, pledged to put an end to the separatist conflict in the east, which has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

Zelenskiy’s proposal would build on peace talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2014 and 2015 where Ukrainian officials were negotiating with separatist leaders with the Russian, French and German mediation.

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