Russia's Putin calls for a ceasefire by opposing sides in east Ukraine

MOSCOW, July 18 Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:13am EDT

MOSCOW, July 18 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Friday for a ceasefire by pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces fighting in eastern Ukraine to allow for negotiations.

"Direct talks between the opposing sides must be established as soon as possible. All sides in the conflict must swiftly halt fighting and begin peace negotiations," Putin said at a meeting with Russian Orthodox Church leaders.

"It is with great concern and sadness that we are watching what is happening in eastern Ukraine. It's awful, it's a tragedy." (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel, editing by Thomas Grove)

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