Rebel envoy says traveling to Minsk for talks with Russia, Ukraine, OSCE

A representative of pro-Russian rebels said on Friday he was traveling to the Belarussian capital Minsk for talks with envoys from Kiev, Moscow and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a separatist news agency reported.

The group brokered a ceasefire deal in Minsk last September, but an upsurge in violence in separatist eastern territories in the past two weeks appears to have buried the frequently violated truce.

Further talks would bring hopes of a new ceasefire agreement to contain the conflict, which has killed more than 5,000 since erupting nine months ago.

"At the moment I am going to Minsk," the separatist-run DAN news agency quoted rebel envoy Denis Pushilin as saying. "A formal invitation to take part in the meeting was received from the OSCE."

Both Ukraine and the rebels accuse the other side of escalating the conflict. The rebels have said the September peace agreement is no longer effective, but are prepared to hold new talks with Kiev.

The press service for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the Foreign Ministry said they had no information whether a Ukrainian envoy was traveling to Minsk for talks on Friday.

The OSCE, whose chairman Ivica Dacic said on Thursday he hoped new talks would be held in Minsk "as soon as possible," declined to comment on Pushilin's statements.

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