Ukraine's Poroshenko sure that peace is on the way

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he believes the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in the east is on the wane and that peace efforts will work.

In a news conference Thursday outlining his plans for Ukraine over the next half-decade, Poroshenko said: "I have no doubt whatsoever that my peace plan will work and that the main and most dangerous part of the war is behind."

His proposals were a foundation for agreements this month aimed at ending the conflict that has killed at least 3,500 people since mid-April. The first step was a cease-fire called three weeks ago that in the beginning was repeatedly violated. But in recent days, reports of violations have decreased notably.

Poroshenko also said he is working to arrange a meeting in the next several weeks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that he believes there has been a "transformation" of Russia's aims regarding Ukraine.

Russia at first wanted to tear apart Ukraine, Poroshenko said, but now "the relationship with the Russia and the plans of Russia are changing."

Ukraine and Western countries claim that Russia sent troops and equipment into eastern Ukraine to back the separatist rebels, which Russia denies.

Russia was a party to the talks that led to the cease-fire.

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