MINSK, Belarus

Leaders negotiate to halt fighting in eastern Ukraine

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine negotiated into the early hours Thursday to try to find a way to halt the fighting in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 5,300 people.

The talks on ending the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatist rebels came amid intense anxiety over the sharp spike in fighting in recent weeks, as Europe nervously awaits word on whether Washington will send lethal aid to Ukraine and as Russia’s economy deteriorates under sanctions imposed by the West.

In a diplomatic blitz that began last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande visited Kiev and Moscow to speak to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin, paving the way for the talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signaled some progress, saying late Wednesday that the talks were “active, better than super.”

PARIS

Council gives mayor OK to sue Fox over ‘no-go zones’

Paris City Council authorized Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Wednesday to sue U.S. broadcaster Fox News for reporting there are “no-go zones” in the French capital where non-Muslims and police fear to venture.

City officials voted to file a lawsuit at a French court for defamation regarding comments on Fox News and a map it broadcast with eight such so-called off-limits areas circled in red. The report came when Paris was on high alert after attacks by Islamic radicals last month.

Fox was widely mocked for that report and for comments describing the English city of Birmingham as “totally Muslim.” The broadcaster later apologized for “some regrettable errors.”

– From news service reports