"There are still serious differences concerning the origin of Ukraine's internal conflict, as well as the root causes of what is currently happening," Russian news agencies quoted Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying early on Friday.

His comments came after the two leaders held what Peskov said was a two-and-a-half-hour meeting late Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe (ASEM) summit in Milan.

Merkel had earlier said that it was "first and foremost" Russia's responsibility to make sure a tenuous ceasefire and peace plan agreed last month between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels "really will be implemented."

The ceasefire, reached on September 5 in Minsk, has repeatedly been violated by both sides.

Putin is due to meet Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko early today, with Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, British Premier David Cameron and Italian leader Matteo Renzi all sitting in.

Merkel and Poroshenko met separately on Thursday for talks on the peace accords, with both "regretting that many points had not yet been implemented," German government sources said.

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