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Slaviansk mayor 'speaks to security mediators'

The self-styled mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk, which is controlled by armed pro-Russian separatists, said he had been in contact with mediators from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, speaking at a news conference in Slaviansk, did not say what he had discussed with the mediators.

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Syria removes 80% of chemical weapons

Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of its chemical weapons and is on target to hits its June deadline for full removal, said the United Nations.

Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of its chemical weapons in-country, says the UN's special co-ordinator
Syria has removed or destroyed 80% of its chemical weapons in-country, says the UN's special co-ordinator Credit: REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

Syria has destroyed empty mustard gas containers and "made progress" closing chemical weapons production and storage sites, said the UN.

Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, said she expected further meetings with Syrian officials would keep removal efforts moving up to the 30 June target.

Read: Farage says Syria rebels 'more than likely' behind gas attacks

Mediator heads to east Ukraine seeking surrenders

A mediator from Europe's OSCE security body headed to eastern Ukraine seeking the surrender of pro-Russian separatists as the Kiev government declared an Easter truce following a peace accord with Moscow.

Gunmen occupying public buildings in Donetsk and other border towns refuse to recognise an accord in Geneva on Thursday by which Russia, Ukraine and Kiev's US and EU allies agreed that the OSCE should oversee the disarmament of militants.

Pro-Russian protesters hang banners in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk Credit: Reuters

Ertogrul Apakan, who heads the special mission in Kiev of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said his deputy would be in Donetsk and meet separatist leaders by Sunday to see if they will comply with the agreement.

Swiss envoy Christian Schoenenberger said: "For the time being the political will is not there to move out [...] That's the task of the monitors, to create this political will, inform the people, so eventually they will understand that the best option for them is to move out."

'Vicious, uncontrolled battles fragmenting a nation'

Whilst diplomats met in Geneva made tentative steps towards a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis, pro-Russian militants in the eastern city of Donetsk refused to leave an occupied government building until pro-government forces stood down, creating a tense stand-off.

Europe Correspondent, Emma Murphy reports from Donetsk

More: Geneva talks: Key points on Ukraine crisis

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Ukraine: Riot police in Donetsk protect pro-unity rally

Police have gathered to protect a pro-unity rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, according to a journalist in the region.

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Hundreds of riot police to protect prounity rally on #Donetsk Commander: police force under control of Kyiv #Ukraine http://t.co/PpRWxBniEQ

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More: US approves additional 'non-lethal' support to Ukraine

Pro-Russia separatists bid to humiliate Ukraine

Separatists flew the Russian flag on armoured vehicles taken from the Ukrainian army today in a bid to humiliate Kiev's operation to recapture towns in the eastern region.

Six armoured personnel carriers were driven into the rebel-held town of Slaviansk to shouts of "Russia! Russia!"

ITV News Europe Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

Read: It might already be too late to stop the slide into civil war in Ukraine

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