German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the 'very close relations' her country has built with Ukraine over recent years as she welcomed President Petro Poroshenko to Berlin on April 12 ahead of the countrys April 21 runoff vote.
At a joint news conference, Merkel deflected a question about the impression that she favors Poroshenko in the election. She said that she is in 'permanent contact' with the incumbent.
'We have built very close relations in the last few years,' Merkel said. She added that 'implementing democratic change is a complicated process.... Ukraine has made progress here, but certainly is not at the end of the road.'
Poroshenko and challenger Volodymyr Zelenskiy are scheduled to meet separately on April 12 with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
Germany, France, and Ukraine are part of the so-called 'Normandy format' of countries seeking a resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists are fighting against Kyiv government forces.
Russia is the fourth country in the format, which has not held talks in two years.
According to preelection surveys Zelenskiy -- a comedian and political newcomer -- is the favorite to win the presidential runoff.
Zelenskiy won the first round by a wide margin over Poroshenko, but he did not receive enough support to avoid the runoff.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP
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