"Petro Poroshenko and Angela Merkel have agreed to hold a short meeting on January 11 in Paris to coordinate further efforts, aimed at the settlement of the Donbas conflict," the Ukrainian president's official webpage said late on Saturday.
In Paris, Merkel and Poroshenko are expected to attend a solidarity march for the victims of brutal killings that shook France over three days, starting with a deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday.
Both leaders urged speedy talks within the framework of the Contact Group, which includes Kiev officials, and representatives of the eastern Ukrainian militias. There have been several rounds of talks so far, mediated by Russian envoys and OSCE security group representatives. Two such roundtables in September 2014 in the Belarusian capital Minsk, ended in a ceasefire agreement.
This time around negotiators are aiming at coordinating efforts that will help all parties involved to implement the agreement, reached in Minsk back on September 19. Poroshenko emphasized that the much-discussed direct political dialogue between Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian provinces, known as Donbas, could be initiated during local elections there.
He said that, once Donetsk and Luhansk had picked their representatives during Kiev-mandated local elections, these officials would help shape constitutional reforms that are aimed at decentralizing the country.
Ukraine's decentralization and a special status of the two breakaway regions in the country's southeast was one of militias' demands before their decision to split away from Ukraine and seek an independent status, a move that prompted Kiev to launch a massive military offensive killings thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee across the border to Russia and elsewhere inside Ukraine.