KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has proposed a time and place for talks Saturday with pro-Russian separatist rebels, intended to produce conditions for a durable cease-fire, and is waiting for the other side to respond, the president's Web site said.
In some of the worst violence since President Petro Poroshenko called off a 10-day unilateral cease-fire June 30, Ukraine's "anti-terrorist operation" headquarters said at least 13 Ukrainian military personnel were killed Friday.
More than 200 have been killed on the government side, as well as hundreds of civilians and rebels, in more than two months of fighting in Russian-speaking eastern regions that want to quit Ukraine and join Russia.
Separatist officials have suggested the venue of the talks could be a problem since rebel leaders could be subject to arrest by Ukrainian authorities if they move out of their eastern strongholds.
Ukraine's foreign minister and those of Germany, France and Russia agreed Wednesday in Berlin another meeting of the so-called "contact group" should be set up by this weekend with rebel leaders to agree on a more effective cease-fire.
The group includes a former Ukrainian president, Moscow's ambassador to Kiev, and a high-ranking official from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Merkel’s office said the three agreed "a mutual cease-fire and cooperation between Ukraine and Russia on securing the border are necessary steps to stabilise the situation. Russia in particular is urged to use its influence over the separatists," it said in a statement.
Russia denies orchestrating the conflict or sending in fighters and weapons.
Armed separatists captured key buildings in eastern Ukrainian cities in April soon after Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and have declared "people's republics" in a bid to follow its example and join Russia.