KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's interior ministry says government troops will start a unilateral, seven-day ceasefire later Friday as a first step in efforts to de-escalate the conflict with pro-Russia separatists in the country's east.

The ministry on its website cited statements by President Petro Poroshenko in saying "the forces of the anti-terrorist operation will halt military action starting today and through June 27."

Poroshenko has said a short cease-fire is to be the first step in his plan to ease the conflict. He said it will give separatists time to lay down their arms and leave the country, to be followed by talks, new local elections and a jobs program. (AP)