Germany’s Gabriel urges lasting ceasefire in eastern Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Gabriel attends a joint news conference with Libya's Foreign Affairs Minister Taher Siala, in Tripoli

KRASNODAR, Russia (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday called for Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine to extend a harvest-related ceasefire, saying it could help pave the way for a political solution.

Gabriel, speaking at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, called for a new effort to rein in arms spending worldwide and counteract a new arms race between Russia and the West.

But he said the stationing of some 4,500 NATO troops in the Baltic region posed no threat to Russia.

Gabriel also said Germany would welcome a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of an upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, adding that he hoped the two leaders would also discuss the civil war in Syria. He said it was important to prevent the use of any new chemical weapons there.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Reuters TV; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)