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Kerry hopes for steps to ease tensions in Ukraine

SAINT-BRIAC-SUR-MER, France (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he's hoping for steps to ease tensions in Ukraine now that the new president has been sworn in.

Kerry tells reporters in France that he's “confident there are ways forward,” and that includes Russia's help in getting separatists to put away their weapons and relinquish buildings they're occupying.

He says the hope is not to impose tougher penalties against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

Earlier Saturday, Ukraine's new president _ Petro Poroshenko _ said he wanted a dialogue with his country's east, where a separatist insurgency has taken hold.

Kerry raised the possibility of a cease-fire and said it's important to begin to build Ukraine.

He spoke in the French seaside town of Saint Briac that's home to his family's ancestral estate.

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