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Germany, France urge end to renewed fighting in east Ukraine

Germany, France urge end to renewed fighting in east Ukraine

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are urging both sides in eastern Ukraine to live up to cease-fire agreements amid a recent upswing in clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces.

Merkel and Macron issued a joint statement Saturday urging combatants to observe the Minsk agreements aimed at defusing the conflict. Those provisions include the withdrawal of heavy weapons such as tanks and rocket launchers from the front-line area and an exchange of prisoners.

The two leaders also urged the return of Russian military officers to a joint coordination center that plays a role in supporting observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

They said that "there is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful solution to the conflict."