Reuters International

PARIS (Reuters) - France expressed concern on Monday over increased violations of a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine between Kiev's forces and pro-Russian separatists and urged both sides to cooperate with international monitors in the area.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is monitoring implementation of the ceasefire in a conflict that has killed more than 9,000 people since April 2014. Last month the OSCE said it wanted the two sides to pull further apart along the line of contact.

France, which has been negotiating with Germany, Russia and Ukraine's pro-Western government to end the crisis, said the OSCE mission was facing increased obstruction in the area.

"The recent incidents targeting monitors close to the contact line are not acceptable," the French foreign ministry said in a statement, urging both sides to guarantee OSCE access to their respective areas.

"The situation can only be stabilised by the full application of the Minsk agreement," it said, referring to the peace deal backed by Kiev, its Western allies and Moscow.

The West accuses Russia - which seized Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014 - of backing the separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies arming them or sending any of its own troops across the border into Ukraine.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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