Donetsk, Jan 17 - DAN. The Contact Group for a peaceful settlement of the Donbass conflict began the first consultations in the Belarussian capital in 2019, the Donetsk People’s Republic Foreign Ministry press service said.

“The Contact Group began its first conference this year,” the press service said adding that the agenda included such issues as ceasefire observation, disengagement of forces and hardware, prisoner exchange, the search for missing persons, a plan for paying pensions to Donbass residents, the wireless service provider Vodafone’s operation and the implementation of the Steinmeier formula.

Earlier reports said that the four working groups had begun Donbass talks in Minsk.

The situation in the region remained tense as of the moment of the negotiations. On Thursday morning, the Ukrainian army shelled Donetsk outskirts with mortars. Twelve violations of the “Christmas ceasefire” by Ukraine were recorded over the past 24 hours.*jk