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Ahead Of World Cup Final, Merkel And Putin Talk Ukraine   
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin
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Meeting in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the World Cup final, the German chancellor and Russian president said Ukraine's conflict "has a tendency towards degradation," according to a spokesman. Merkel has urged Putin to influence separatists to help end the fighting that has killed hundreds in eastern Ukraine.

"Both Putin and Merkel stressed the necessity to urgently resume the work of a contact group on Ukraine, possibly in the format of a video conference," said Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president's spokesman.

"It is their common opinion that, in order for the contact group to resume its work, a ceasefire needs to be declared as soon as possible."

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