1st Ld Writethru: Putin, Macron discuss Syria, Ukraine by phone

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PARIS/MOSCOW, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the Syrian settlement and Ukraine-related issues over the phone on Wednesday.

The Kremlin said in a statement that the two presidents examined the problems of the Syrian settlement in detail, primarily in the context of a four-party agreement on the formation of a constitutional committee.

Putin, Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to set up a Syrian constitutional committee during a summit on Oct. 27 in Istanbul.

In a statement released by the French Presidency, Macron said France's priority in Syria was the fight against terrorism with a view to eradicating the terrorist group ISIS and countering any resurgence of terrorism in the region.

"This fight is not over and continues on the ground as part of the international coalition," the French presidency said.

Macron also said France remains committed to a political settlement of the Syrian issue in the framework of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, the only possible way of stability, protection civilian populations and peace, according to the French statement.

On the Ukraine issue, Macron welcomed the agreement reached on Dec. 27, 2018 for a recommitment to the ceasefire and called for its full and lasting respect, according to the French presidency statement.

The Kremlin said the two presidents exchanged views on the Ukrainian crisis, taking into account what had happened in the Kerch Strait on Nov. 25.

Moscow-Kiev tensions flared up after Russia shot at and seized three Ukrainian naval ships attempting to sail through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, alleging that they had intruded into Russian territorial waters.

However, the Ukrainian government insisted that it had informed the Russian side beforehand and has arranged lawyers to defend the captured sailors. Enditem

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