Merkel: 4-way Ukraine talks next week still an option

German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains open to holding top-level talks with Ukraine, Russia and France on the conflict in eastern Ukraine next week.

Senior officials from the four countries were in the Belarus capital of Minsk on Friday to discuss such a meeting.

Merkel told reporters in Berlin "as far as next week is concerned, I can't say yet because I first have to wait for news from the ongoing talks at working level." She added: "we are keeping this open but we haven't reached a decision yet."

Germany has sought to broker a durable peace agreement that would end the conflict between Russia-backed rebels and the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine. Berlin has insisted that all sides in the conflict must abide by a 2015 deal forged in Minsk.