September 29, 2016 / 4:10 PM / a year ago

Putin, Merkel discuss Ukraine, agree more contacts - Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of the Central Election Commission at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, September 23, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Michael Klimentyev via REUTERS

MOSCOW/BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to stabilise a fragile ceasefire in Ukraine and do all he could to improve the "catastrophic humanitarian situation" in Syria, a German government spokesman said.

"The chancellor expressed great concern about the situation in Syria and urged President Putin to do everything possible to improve conditions for the civilian population," the spokesman said, referring to a phone call between the two leaders.

The Kremlin earlier said Merkel and Putin had agreed on a schedule of future contacts in the so-called Normandy format, first adopted at talks in France in 2014, which brings together the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.

The Ukraine crisis was discussed within the framework of "reactivating work for a full implementation of the Minsk (ceasefire) agreements", the Kremlin said.

The German government spokesman said Merkel had urged Putin to continue to implement the Minsk peace accord of 2015, designed to end conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow and Andrea Shalal in Berlin; editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Mark Trevelyan

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