German, French Leaders Call Putin Over Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have urged Russia to use its influence on rebels in eastern Ukraine so that a meeting on a possible cease-fire can take place as soon as possible.

Merkel's spokesman said she and Hollande called President Vladimir Putin on Thursday morning.

Steffen Seibert said the German and French leaders stressed that the "contact group" made up of representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should meet as soon as possible with representatives of pro-Russian rebels, and "Russia should use its means of influence" to ensure that.

Seibert said all three agreed that a cease-fire and avoiding further civilian victims should be a top priority.

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