Leaders of 4 countries discuss settling Ukraine conflict

MOSCOW: The Kremlin says that the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine have spoken by telephone about ways to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

A Kremlin statement said the participants in the call early Tuesday emphasised the need to observe a cease-fire and discussed raising the efficiency of a monitoring mission by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The Kremlin statement added that Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed giving the OSCE mission additional powers.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces erupted in April 2014 weeks after Russia's annexation of Crimea. A February 2015 agreement brokered by France and Germany has helped reduce fighting, but frequent clashes have erupted and efforts to reach a political settlement have stalled.