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Ukraine's Zelenskiy to hold talks with Merkel, Macron about Russia standoff

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KYIV, April 15 (Reuters) - The leaders of Ukraine, France and Germany will hold three-way talks on Friday about Ukraine's standoff with Russia over the conflict in the eastern Donbass region, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video released to media on Thursday.

Zelenskiy will travel to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and they will speak to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a video conference, he said.

The meeting would lay the groundwork for a meeting in the so-called "Normandy" format, he said, though he gave no indication whether or when such a meeting could happen.

The "Normandy" format talks involve the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia and have not taken place since December 2019.

"...This is an important preparatory meeting for the Normandy format," Zelenskiy said, adding that "the situation in Donbass is now under control."

Ukraine and Russia have traded blame over a spike in violence in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed forces in a conflict that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Russia of a "provocative" build-up of troops near Ukraine's eastern border and annexed Crimea.

Zelenskiy also thanked Turkey for its support and said Ukrainian tourists should visit Turkey after Russia restricted travel there.

The Turkish government said earlier on Thursday it was not picking sides in the standoff and supported a diplomatic solution. read more

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alison Williams

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