KIEV (AFP) - A top Ukrainian separatist leader on Monday said ro-Russian rebels would temporarily cease fire and seek talks with the new Western-backed president to end 10 weeks of fighting in the industrial east.
"In response to the ceasefire declared by Kiev, we pledge to also halt fire on our part," Oleksandr Borodai of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency in Donetsk.
"This ceasefire will last until June 27."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered a one-week unilateral ceasefire on Friday in an effort to end a pro-Russian uprising that has killed more than 375 people and threatened to break up the culturally splintered ex-Soviet state.
Poroshenko simultaneously unveiled a peace plan that includes a call for talks with separatists who were not implicated in "murder and torture" - a condition immediately denounced by the Kremlin.
Top rebel commanders rejected the terms of Poroshenko's peace overture and violence raged on through the week across Russian border regions that proclaimed their independence from Kiev in May.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin came out in support of Poroshenko's initiative over the weekend and also urged the rebels to lay down their weapons.
Borodai did not refer to Putin directly in his comments but did say that he was now ready to engage Poroshenko for the first time.
"We hope that during the period in which both sides halt fire, we will be able to agree and begin consultations about holding negotiations about a peaceful settlement to the conflict," he told Russian state television in separate comments.