France says Macron, Putin agree to work for east Ukraine ceasefire

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sunday agreed to work for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Macron's office said.

France says Macron, Putin agree to work for east Ukraine ceasefire
(COMBO/FILES) This combination of file photographs created on September 14, 2020, shows (L) Russian President Vladimir Putin taking part in an All-Russian open class titled "To Remember Means To Know" via video conference at Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow on September 1, 2020 and (R) France's President Emmanuel Macron attending a news conference at the Pine Residence, the official residence of the French ambassador to Lebanon, in Beirut on September 1, 2020. - A telephone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine got underway on February 20, 2022, as planned, Macron's office said. The call, described by the French side as part of a last-ditch effort to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine, began at 11 AM (1000 GMT), the presidency said. It comes two weeks after Macron went to Moscow to persuade Putin to hold back from an invasion. (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev and GONZALO FUENTES / various sources / AFP)

In a phone conversation lasting 105 minutes, they also agreed on “the need to favour a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis and to do everything to achieve one”, the Elysee said, adding that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would meet “in the coming days”.

Putin and Macron said they would work “intensely” to allow the TrilateralContact Group, which includes Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, to meet “in the next few hours with the aim of getting all interested parties to commit to a ceasefire at the contact line” in eastern Ukraine where government troops and pro-Russian separatists are facing each other.

“Intense diplomatic work will take place in the coming days,” Macron’soffice said, with several consultations to take place in the French capital.

Macron and Putin also agreed that talks between Russia, Ukraine, France andGermany should resume to implement the so-called Minsk protocol which in 2014had already called for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

Both also agreed to work towards “a high-level meeting with the aim ofdefining a new peace and security order in Europe”, Macron’s office said.

SEE ALSO: Putin tells Macron invasion claims are ‘provocative speculation’

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.