Ukrainian president, rebels back ceasefire plan
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Thursday said he was ready to agree to a ceasefire with independence-seeking rebels if international mediators agree on it.
"Tomorrow (Friday) at 2 p.m., if the planned meeting in Minsk goes ahead, I will call on the General Staff to set up a bilateral ceasefire," Xinhua quoted Poroshenko as saying on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Wales, Britain.
Poroshenko voiced hope that the implementation of the peace plan aimed at ending the crisis in eastern Ukraine will also begin Friday.
Poroshenko's statement drew positive reaction in Ukraine, with rebel leaders voicing their readiness to make concessions.
In their joint statement, the self-styled leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics said they were ready to reach a bilateral ceasefire with government troops if certain conditions are met.
"Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of Donetsk People's Republic and Igor Plotnitsky, the head of Lugansk People's Republic said they are ready tomorrow, on Sep. 5, at 3 p.m. to order a ceasefire if an agreement on it is reached in Minsk," the rebels' statement said.
On Friday, representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will hold talks in Belarus capital Minsk, to find political ways out of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has killed more than 2,600 people.
Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was ready to take practical steps toward the de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine in line with the plan proposed by President Vladimir Putin.
Putin proposed a seven-point plan Wednesday to stop military clashes in southeast Ukraine and discussed the "concrete steps to promote a ceasefire between the militia and the government forces" with Poroshenko.
(Posted on 05-09-2014)