Merkel, Putin say Ukraine must remain intact

BERLIN Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:05am EST

Supporters attend a pro-Yanukovich rally in the eastern city of Donetsk, February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

Supporters attend a pro-Yanukovich rally in the eastern city of Donetsk, February 23, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a phone call on Sunday that Ukraine's "territorial integrity" must be safeguarded and that the country urgently needed a functional government.

"They underscored their joint interest in a stable Ukraine - both in economic and political terms," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement, adding they had agreed to stay in close contact.

The Kremlin said in an earlier separate statement the two leaders had spoken in a call initiated by Berlin.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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