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Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics not invited to negotiations in Minsk officially

The next meetings of the trilateral Contact Group negotiating measures to settle the military conflict in Ukraine will be held in Minsk on December 24 and 26. The agenda of the meetings will comprise the following issues: ceasefire by all the parties, withdrawal of heavy equipment by all the parties, exchange of captives “all for all,” delivery of humanitarian aid to the territories under control of rebels to prevent humanitarian disaster. The statement came from Heidi Tagliavini, OSCE CiO’s special representative, who was present at the meeting of the Ukrainian and Serbian foreign ministers in Kyev, on December 23.

Presidents of Russia, Ukraine, France, and German Chancellor had a phone conversation two days ago and agreed to hold a new meeting in Minsk.

Previously, representatives of Ukraine, Russia, OSCE and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk met trice in the “Minsk format” to discuss the situation in Donbas on July 31, September 5 and 19. Nevertheless, as Vladislav Deinego, representative of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) said on December 23, the LPR leadership received no official invitation to the December 24 meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk.

“I am going to Minsk not to ruin the talks, but no official invitation has been made yet,” RIA Novosti quotes Deinego as saying.

He also said that the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic will be insisting that the laws on special status of Donbass and amnesty for separatists is put on agenda of the Minsk meeting of the Contact Group, Interfax said.

“The announced agenda misses two key points. First: to introduce a law on a special status for Donbass. Secondly, the amnesty law. We will insist on their inclusion in the agenda," Deinego said.

Neither Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, was informed officially of the date of the new meeting in Minsk.

“The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has not been informed of the date of the talks in Minsk yet,” Zakharchenko told reporters on December 23. “Unfortunately, I can give no information to the reporters that constantly phone me over the talks. This goes beyond the joke, they announce, cancel, and postpone talks,” he said.

To recall, the Contact Group meeting was planned for Sunday, December 21, in Minsk, but representatives of the Kyev authorities and the self-proclaimed republics failed to agree on the date of the new round of negotiations in Minsk during their videoconference.

The upcoming negotiations on Donbass in Minsk will be held behind closed doors, according to Belarussian media. The members of the Contact Group expressed their desire to the Belarussian party to meet behind closed doors on December 24 and 26.   

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