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Russian, Ukranian officials to meet in Paris: Macron aide

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Russian and Ukrainian officials are set to meet in Paris Wednesday for talks with their French and German counterparts in a bid to defuse tensions, an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron said.

The meeting — a revival of four-way talks between the nations known as the Normandy Format — is part of efforts to avert war, with France seeing “a path to de-escalation” that would include steps from Ukraine and Russia, the aide told reporters on condition of anonymity Monday.

“The president thinks there is a space for diplomacy, a path to de-escalation,” the aide said, confirming that Macron would speak to Putin “in the coming days.”

The meeting on Wednesday will bring together one of Russia’s vice-prime ministers and a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as diplomatic advisors to Macron and German leader Olaf Scholz, the French aide said.

Referring to the massing of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, he said: “We are very worried. We are also very keen to avoid creating any ambiguity or creating any additional volatility.”

He added that France’s idea for a diplomatic solution to the standoff would encompass several confidence-building measures.

These would include Ukraine’s parliament delaying a law governing the status of Russian-backed separatist provinces in the east of the country, which Moscow sees as violating previous commitments, as well as Russia backing “humanitarian measures”.

These could include prisoner exchanges and the opening of check-points manned by the separatists.

France also would push for “a public statement from the Russians about their intentions that reassures everyone,” the aide said.

Macron is set to take part in talks with US President Joe Biden and fellow European leaders on Monday before travelling to Berlin on Tuesday to meet Scholz.

The meeting with Scholz “will be an opportunity to clearly align our position with Germany. We share the same analysis of the situation and we agree on what needs to be done if the situation were to get worse,” the aide said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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