Brief truce allows bodies of plane victims to be returned

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Associated Press

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:30 PM

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian troops and the pro-Russian insurgents in the country's east have been able to arrange a brief truce today, allowing the pro-Russian forces to hand over the bodies of 49 Ukrainian troops. They died when separatists shot down a transport plane last weekend.

But after the truck carrying the remains had passed to the Ukrainian side, both sides fell back to their respective positions.

Ukraine's president today promised a unilateral cease-fire, saying his government troops will soon stop firing on the separatists. And in another concession to Moscow, Petro Poroshenko replaced his foreign minister, who had outraged Russians by using an obscenity to describe President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's foreign minister is cautiously welcoming the planned cease-fire, though he expressed concern that it could be a trick.

One key question is whether Moscow is willing and able to persuade the pro-Russia insurgents to accept Poroshenko's peace initiative.

Rebel leaders have remained defiant. But in a sign of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, some of them visited Moscow this week to meet with senior officials and lawmakers.

%@AP Links

187-r-09-(Sound of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (PEHT'-roh poh-roh-SHEHN'-koh), with reporters)--Sound of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saying in Ukrainian that he will make a corridor "for Russian mercenaries, a chance for them to leave Ukraine" without their weapons. (18 Jun 2014)

<<CUT *187 (06/18/14)££ 00:09

186-r-23-(Sound of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (PEHT'-roh poh-roh-SHEHN'-koh), with reporters)--Sound of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saying in Ukrainian that the cease-fire period will be short and that, immediately after, "the disarming of the illegal military formations will take place." (18 Jun 2014)

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163-c-20-(David McHugh, AP correspondent)-"will actually happen"-AP correspondent David McHugh reports the announcement seems to be part of a carefully choreographed plan conceived with the leaders of Russia and Germany. (18 Jun 2014)

<<CUT *163 (06/18/14)££ 00:20 "will actually happen"

APPHOTO MOSB138: A pro-Russian fighter holds a gun during a handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops killed in a plane shot down near Luhansk, at a check point in the village of Karlivka near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The two sides managed to arrange a brief truce Wednesday evening in the eastern town of Karlivka to allow pro-Russian forces to hand over the bodies of 49 Ukrainian troops who died when the separatists shot down a transport plane bound for the airport in Luhansk last weekend. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) (18 Jun 2014)

<<APPHOTO MOSB138 (06/18/14)££

APPHOTO MOSB137: A pro-Russian fighter walks during a handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops killed in a plane shot down near Luhansk, at a check point in the village of Karlivka near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. The two sides managed to arrange a brief truce Wednesday evening in the eastern town of Karlivka to allow pro-Russian forces to hand over the bodies of 49 Ukrainian troops who died when the separatists shot down a transport plane bound for the airport in Luhansk last weekend. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) (18 Jun 2014)

<<APPHOTO MOSB137 (06/18/14)££

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