• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Monday on Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin to implement the cease-fire between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine, as fighting persists.

“All parties concerned must make good the Minsk agreement and make sure that the cease-fire is in place,” Abe was quoted by Foreign Ministry officials as telling Klimkin.

Concerns linger over the implementation of the agreement that was struck last month in the capital of Belarus as fighting has continued in parts of Ukraine.

The accord calls for the withdrawal of heavy weaponry by both groups and the granting of special status to east Ukraine areas controlled by the separatists.

At the outset of a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, which was open to the media, Klimkin said Ukraine is “fully committed” to implementing the Minsk deal, but there is a “need” for Russia and the separatists to honor the accord.

Referring to the two areas where fighting continues despite the cease-fire, Klimkin said, “The situation in Donetsk and Lugansk remains very difficult and tense.”

Kishida said the continued clashes in eastern Ukraine are “alarming” and reiterated Abe’s call to fully implement the cease-fire agreement.

The cease-fire was reached by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine after marathon talks.

A different accord, struck last September by the Ukrainian government and rebels, eventually fell through as fighting was rekindled and violence intensified this year.

Both Abe and Kishida assured Klimkin that Japan “respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” Abe also expressed Japan’s hope to “contribute to the peaceful settlement” of the conflict.

Japan has condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea in southern Ukraine last March and maintains the position that any attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion can’t be accepted.

Klimkin said to both Kishida and Abe that he is thankful for Japan’s support for Ukraine’s political stability and promised to exert efforts in moving forward reforms there.

Japan has extended $1.8 billion in economic assistance to Ukraine. The two countries also signed an investment accord in February.

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