vladimir putin.jpg

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to attend a summit in Berlin on Wednesday, part of a fresh bid to resolve the long-running Ukraine crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office said Tuesday.

The meeting, hosted by Merkel, will be the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in early 2014 that Putin has officially visited Berlin.

However, there have been meetings between the two. Merkel talked with Putin in Moscow in May last year for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Along with Putin, French President Francois Hollande and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will appear at the summit, which is expected to take place in the evening.

The last meeting between the four leaders was in Paris a year ago. Officials having struggled since then to bring the sides together again, amid continued fighting in the eastern part of Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

Merkel has spearheaded international efforts to end the Ukraine conflict, which broke out in 2014 after former pro-Moscow Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in a popular uprising.

Since then, two attempts at reaching a ceasefire for the region under the so-called Minsk accord have largely failed.

The accord was originally signed in September 2014. The German, French, Ukrainian and Russian leaders also drew up a package of measures aimed at taking the first steps to end the conflict at a meeting in February last year.

Hollande's office said the Berlin meeting would allow leaders to "evaluate the implementation of Minsk and discuss the next steps of the process toward the settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine."

Poroshenko also telephoned with Hollande and Merkel Wednesday in advance of the Berlin meeting, according to Poroshenko's presidential website.

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