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Kiev says will let international aid mission in rebel-held Lugansk

Ukraine is ready to accept an aid mission to the eastern rebel stronghold of Lugansk, President Petro Poroshenko said, but only if it is an unarmed international team entering the country through Kiev-controlled borders.

KIEV: Ukraine is ready to accept an aid mission to the eastern rebel stronghold of Lugansk, President Petro Poroshenko said, but only if it is an unarmed international team entering the country through Kiev-controlled borders.

In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Poroshenko said he was already in discussions with Red Cross chief Peter Maurer over such a possible mission.

"We are ready to accept humanitarian aid if the mission is an international one, without any military escort and if it passes through border checkpoints controlled by Ukrainian guards," Poroshenko said, according to a statement issued by his office.

The president's statement came after Kiev said it had scuppered an attempt by Russia to send troops across its porous eastern borders under the guise of aid workers. Earlier, the mayor of rebel-held Lugansk said the city was on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, as a siege by government troops has seen water, electricity and food supplies cut off.

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