PARIS, Aug. 29 - France, Germany and Russia back plans for a complete ceasefire in eastern Ukraine from Sept. 1, the French presidency said after their respective leaders spoke by telephone on Saturday, Reuters reported.
Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists, in a gesture to shore up a tenuous ceasefire, agreed on Aug. 26 to strive for an end to all truce violations from next Tuesday, the OSCE and rebel representatives have said.
In a statement, French President Francois Hollande's office said he also agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin that it would be useful to hold a summit with Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko in the coming weeks.
“They strongly backed the call for a complete ceasefire from Sept. 1," Hollande's office said. "They underlined that the respect of a lasting ceasefire was a necessity given the situation of civilians in eastern Ukraine."
The two sides agreed in February to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine parallel to a political process, including plans for local elections and establishment of a special self-management status for separatist-minded regions.
But sporadic clashes between the two forces, in which artillery and other weapons have been used and civilians, Ukrainian soldiers and separatists have been killed, have since undermined the February deal.
Government spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Thursday seven Ukrainian servicemen had been killed and 13 injured in fighting that centered mostly around Donetsk.
An upsurge in violence in the Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk regions that broke out in mid-August has renewed fears of full-scale warfare returning to the edge of the European Union's unstable eastern front.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is overseeing a separate set of discussions between the warring sides and Russia aimed at resolving all political conflicts and halting the fighting by the year's end.
The OSCE said the parties on Wednesday agreed to prepare a new temporary ceasefire that would be enforced around schools in the war zone once classes resume on September 1.
The Minsk negotiators "find it essential that once the school year begins, the fighting halts along the line of contact for the first week of classes," the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted OSCE mediator Martin Sajdik as saying. (rt/ez)