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Ukraine Parliament Endorses Poroshenko Nominations Amid Fresh Fighting

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko applauds during a session of parliament in Kyiv on June 19, during which deputies endorsed his nominations for key government posts.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has received parliamentary backing for his nominations to several key posts in his new team.

The parliament on June 19 endorsed Poroshenko's nominations for foreign minister, central bank chief, and prosecutor general, with each of the candidates winning more than two-thirds of parliament's votes.

Pavlo Klimkin, until now ambassador to Germany, was approved as foreign minister.

Klimkin, 46, has played a key role in negotiating the association and free-trade agreements with the European Union, which Ukraine is expected to sign later this month.

Klimkin is currently Poroshenko's representative in negotiations with Russia mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that were launched in Kyiv.

Russia's RIA-Novosti state news agency quoted the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin as saying "we wish the new minister success and are ready for contact with him."

Valeriya Hontareva, an investment banker who has worked in international financial institutions for nearly two decades, is the new head of the central bank.

Vitaliy Yarema, currently first deputy prime minister, becomes prosecutor-general.

Presenting Yarema's nomination, Poroshenko said he would be a key figure in the fight against corruption in the country.

Poroshenko still has to announce his nominations for defense minister and the head of the SBU state security service -- two other key posts as government forces clash with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Government forces said there was fresh fighting near the town of Krasny Liman on June 19, after the separatists rejected a call to lay down their arms.

In line with a plan to end two months of fighting, on June 18 Poroshenko proposed a unilateral cease-fire if the separatists disarmed and promised them a safe exit.

Poroshenko was due later on June 19 to meet regional officials from Donetsk and Luhansk to explain his peace plan -- but no representative of the separatists would be present.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced that at least a few thousand more Russian troops are now in place near Ukraine's eastern border.

Reuters quotes Rasmussen as saying it seems Russia is keeping "the option open to intervene further in Ukraine."

NATO had earlier said that Russia had withdrawn about two-thirds of what it said were 40,000 troops from the border region.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax
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