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Trump says ready to join Normandy talks on east Ukraine conflict

President Donald J. Trump applauds and waves as he acknowledges crowds waiting on the flight line after disembarking Air Force One Wednesday, Aug. 21. 2019, at Louisville International Airport in Louisville, KY. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
September 10, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he isn’t averse to joining talks with Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Known as the Normandy format, Trump told Voice of America on September 9 in Washington that he’d join the talks if the participants needed him.

“I believe the fact that the exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine took place…is a very big step, and a very positive step. If they need me to join, I would join [the Normandy format],” Trump said.

France, Germany, and Ukraine have called for talks to take place by the end of this month. Russia has said it is ready to meet once “concrete steps” are taken before the meeting.

The last round of Normandy talks took place in 2016.

Ukraine blames Moscow for stoking the conflict in eastern Ukraine where Russia-backed separatists have fought government forces since April 2014.

Russia denies involvement and has portrayed the war as an internal affair.

More than 13,000 have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.