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Ukraine's leader to propose cease-fire with rebels

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 11:50 am •  Published: June 16, 2014
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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's new president said Monday that 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.

But first, the armed forces must secure control over Ukraine's porous border with Russia, President Petro Poroshenko said at a meeting of the national security council after a bloody weekend in which the rebels shot down a military transport plane, killing 49 crew and troops.

"As soon as the border is closed, we can immediately declare a cease-fire," he said. "Declaring a cease-fire while the border is open would be irresponsible."

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 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 he 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 said 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.