Ukraine gov't pledges to cease fire in the east on Saturday

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered his country's troops to cease firing on Russia-backed separatists on Saturday.

Fighting between government troops and the separatists has been raging in eastern Ukraine since 2014, killing more than 9,800 people.

A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany has helped reduce the scale of fighting, but violence has continued while attempts to broker a political settlement have failed.

Poroshenko met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday and said Ukraine, Germany and France would renew efforts to strengthen the peace deal.

The president's spokesman, Svyatoslav Tsegolko says Poroshenko has ordered a cease-fire for the armed forces starting April 1.

Previous efforts and pledges to honor the cease-fire spelled out in the 2015 agreement have typically lasted several weeks at most.