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Ukraine's leader to propose cease-fire with rebels

Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema (R) and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov examine a map prior to a National Security and Defence Council sitting in Kiev on June 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY

KIEV, Ukraine: Ukraine's new president says he will propose a detailed peace plan this week that will include a cease-fire with the separatist rebels in the country's restive east.

President Petro Poroshenko spoke Monday as he opened a national security council meeting after a bloody weekend in which the rebels shot down a military transport plane, killing 49 crew and troops.

"A cease-fire will be proposed as the beginning of (my) peace plan," he said.

There was no immediate response from the separatists to Poroshenko's comments.

Ukraine has struggled to suppress an insurgency by armed pro-Russia separatists who have seized government buildings, declared independence and fought government troops in eastern Ukraine. More than 300 people have died in the fighting.

Poroshenko had outlined a peace proposal in his June 7 inaugural address, saying he was willing to offer amnesty to fighters who did not have "blood on their hands" and would protect citizens' ability to use the Russian language. He also proposed a jobs program and an early parliamentary election.

Poroshenko also proposed holding early local elections in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which have declared independence from the central government in Kiev. He says that would allow residents to choose local officials who would be given the responsibility of ensuring the peace.

Ukraine accuses Russia of backing the rebels, which Russia denies.

 

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