BENOUVILLE, France (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko on Friday on the sidelines of D-Day commemorations in France as they met German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Reuters reporter said.
Western officials are hoping that informal contacts between Mr Putin and Mr Poroshenko during the one-day event can help ease tensions over Ukraine's future, after Russia seized and annexed the Crimea region following the ouster of a pro-Russian president in Kiev in February.
Mr Putin, Mr Poroshenko and Dr Merkel talked together as they walked into the Chateau de Benouville, in Normandy, where world leaders had lunch together, the Reuters reporter said.
French President Francios Hollande invited Mr Poroshenko as his personal guest to the ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, saying the event should be used to "serve the purposes of peace". The two leaders' first face-to-face talks involved discussion of a possible ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, a French official said. "The conversation took place on possible measures to de-escalate (the crisis), including how Moscow could recognise the election of Mr Poroshenko. The details of a ceasefire will also be discussed in coming days," the official in Mr Hollande's office said, adding that they also discussed the economic consequences of the stand-off.
The Reuters reporter did not, however, see any handshake between the two men. French diplomats said before the event they would see a handshake as tacit acknowledgement by Mr Putin that he recognises Mr Poroshenko's legitimacy the day before he is sworn in, opening the door for dialogue.