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MOSCOW: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday it was important to continue peace talks on the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, speaking during her final working visit to Russia.

The outgoing leader of Germany, which has been a major player in efforts to broker peace in eastern Ukraine, will travel to Kiev on Sunday.

"My advice is to continue trying to keep this format alive and not let it end at an impasse," she told President Vladimir Putin during a joint news conference in the Kremlin.

"Even if the progress isn't as fast as we hoped," she added.

Merkel, who will step down following elections in September, said she will continue "to work for the territorial integrity of Ukraine until the last day of her mandate".

Putin also called for the continuing of peace talks as "there is no other instrument for achieving peace".

The Ukrainian army has been locked in a simmering conflict with breakaway fighters in Donetsk and Lugansk regions that erupted after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists, which Moscow denies.

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