November 29, 2016 / 5:28 PM / 3 years ago

German Foreign Minister says four-way talks on Ukraine were difficult

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks during a news briefing after the talks on the crisis in eastern Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

MINSK (Reuters) - Four-way talks about the conflict in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday were difficult but meaningful and necessary, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters after a meeting with his counterparts from Ukraine, Russia and France.

He said the International Red Cross could help facilitate a significant exchange of prisoners before the end of the year, but said the parties were still far from a political agreement that would pave the way for local elections in the region.

Steinmeier said he was optimistic after the meeting that Ukraine and Russia could begin efforts to disengage troops from four more “hot spot” areas along the line of conflict.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Gareth Jones

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