Contact group on Ukraine: Terrorists to give MH-17 passengers’ luggage back, release hostages

The Trilateral Contact Group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office had a face-to-face meeting in Minsk on July 31, 2014 with representatives of separatist groups from eastern regions of Ukraine, the press service of the OSCE reports. The names of the latter were not specified.

The trilateral talks involve Ukraine’s second President Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov and OSCE official Heidi Tagliavini. The meeting in Minsk took place at the initiative of the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.

The participants discussed the situation of hostages and other persons detained in the context of the conflict. As a first step, they committed to the immediate release of a sizable number of persons deprived of freedom.

The separatists agreed to release at the first stage 20 persons captured in clashes in the Donbas, second Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said. “Twenty people will be released in the near future,” he said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.

The participants of the meeting discussed the situation with the Malaysian MH17 crash site. They hailed the news that a group of international observers and investigators got access to the site on 31 July. They agreed to secure safe access to the crash site for international experts during the investigation.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman said the agreement on keeping open the route used by international experts who travelled to the site in eastern Ukraine on Thursday from the city of Donetsk, reports.

“The working ‘Contact Group” agreed that the corridor … will be supported by a halt in any military operations by the rebels on the route,” Groisman told a briefing in Kiev. At that, terrorists did not agree to let an international military mission’s guards go to the crash site.

The separatists are to deliver a van with the dead passengers’ luggage to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian army, Mr Groisman added.

Another meeting with representatives of the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk regions is expected to take place next week.

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