Germany's Merkel to visit Ukraine on Saturday

August 19, 2014 - 3:06 PM
Germany Ukraine Russia France

Foreign Ministers of France Laurent Fabius, Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Russia Sergey Lavrov, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Kiev on Saturday and meet with top officials, making her first visit to Ukraine since the crisis there erupted.

Merkel is making the visit at Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's invitation and also will meet with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said Tuesday. He said their talks will focus on Ukraine's relationship with Russia and ways to help Ukraine as it battles a pro-Russian insurgency in the east.

Germany has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis in Ukraine. Merkel has spoken frequently with Poroshenko and with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosted a meeting about the crisis with his counterparts from Russia, Ukraine and France. There was little sign of progress at those talks. Germany aims to reconvene them, but it's not yet clear whether and when that might happen.

However, the Kremlin announced Tuesday that Putin would meet with Poroshenko on Aug. 26 in Belarus, their first meeting since early June.

Steinmeier told ZDF television he believes "the conflict in eastern Ukraine is still solvable."

"My impression, even after the difficult talks we had, is that there is a change in the position of both partners in the conflict," he said. "I have the impression that both are searching at the moment for possibilities to find a way to a cease-fire."