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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday that both Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists were violating a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine and it would likely be difficult to resolve the crisis in the short term.

"It's very difficult to find a way out after so many years," Gabriel told an event hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations. "Of course we are trying, but it does not look like we will have a (short-term resolution) of the difficulties in the region."

Gabriel said he backed continued efforts by the so-called "Normandy format" group - involving Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia - to resolve the crisis, but observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were not optimistic, given the situation in the region.

"I have no good messages on this issue," he said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Joseph Nasr)

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