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Ukrainian honor guards head to the ceremony of hoisting Ukrainian national flag after the inauguration ceremony of Ukraine's new President Petro Poroshenko in Sophia Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, June 7, 2014. Petro Poroshenko took the oath of office as Ukraine?s president Saturday, assuming leadership of a country mired in a violent uprising and economic troubles. In the background is a monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

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.