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Merkel urges immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, crash probe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Friday for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine to permit a probe into the apparent downing of a passenger plane in the rebel-held east of the country.

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Friday for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine to permit a probe into the apparent downing of a passenger plane in the rebel-held east of the country.

Merkel said Russia in particular must do its part to bring about a "political solution" to the conflict, adding that Moscow bore responsibility "for what is happening in Ukraine right now".

"What is important now is for an independent investigation to take place as soon as possible," Merkel told reporters, after expressing her sympathies to the families of the crash's victims.

"For that, a ceasefire is needed, and then it is of course crucial for those responsible to be brought to justice."

She said there were "many, many indications that the plane was shot down and that is why we must take this very, very seriously".

Merkel called for a meeting of the so-called contact group comprised of Ukraine, Russia, Russian-backed rebels and the European security body OSCE to find a solution for a "lasting, bilateral ceasefire".

She said it would be a "tough path" but there was "no reasonable alternative" to a political solution to the region's bloody strife.

Merkel added that despite serious "differences" with Putin on events in Ukraine, she aimed to keep the lines of communication open.

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