Mediators say Ukraine rebels lack 'willing' for truce talks

Mediators say Ukraine rebels lack 'willing' for truce talks
Children aboard a bus leaving for Russia in Donetsk, Ukraine. Thousands of panicked refugees are flooding highways and packed trains heading out of the main remaining rebel strongholds in eastern Ukraine.

KIEV - Mediators on the Ukraine crisis have accused pro-Russian rebels of not being committed to truce negotiations after a planned videoconference to discuss talks fell through.

A discussion meant to be held Tuesday between the trilateral Contact Group - which includes representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE - and separatist leaders "did not materialise" meaning that no talks have happened since late June, the group said in a statement.

"In the opinion of the Contact Group, this indicates a lack of willingness on the side of the separatists to engage in substantive talks on a mutually agreed ceasefire," the statement released late Tuesday by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said.

Ukraine's Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone conversation Tuesday that there had been "two attempts" to hold the videoconference following pressure from world leaders for both sides to talk peace.

Poroshenko tore up a brief ceasefire earlier this month to relaunch a military offensive against the rebels aimed at crushing a three-month rebellion that has claimed some 600 lives in the east of the country.

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