President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych said late Wednesday in a statement on his website that he and opposition leaders had agreed to a truce and will start negotiations in an effort to try and stabilize the situation in the country amid recent unrest.

From NBC News:

The president of Ukraine and the leader of the anti-government movement have agreed to a “truce” and “negotiations” aimed at bringing an end to the violence that has torn the country apart.

In a statement on his official website, President Viktor Yanukovych said his government and the opposition have agreed to “negotiations aimed at cessation of bloodshed and stabilization of the situation in the country for the sake of civil peace.”

Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko said in a statement on his website that both sides reached an agreement on the negotiations and that the next round of talks will be held tomorrow (Thursday).

The website quoted Klitschko as saying, “We have received assurances from Yanukovych that there would be no assault on Maidan (Independence Square). Literally, it means a truce. Today a key goal is to stop the bloodshed that authorities have provoked and unleashed. Now we will see how Yanukovych will stick to his word after promised sanctions from the West.”

The announcements — the first significant sign of progress since the anti-government protests began nearly three months ago — came just one day after brutal clashes between demonstrators and police left at least 26 people dead and nearly 250 injured.

Earlier Wednesday, President Obama had weighed in on the situation in Ukraine, urging for an end to the violence and warning all sides that “there will be consequences if people step over the line.”

“The United States condemns in strongest terms the violence that’s taking place there [in Ukraine],” Obama said.  “We have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as both the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to assure that that violence ends. But we hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way, that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression.”

Obama continued, “And I want to be very clear that as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we are going to be watching very carefully and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.  We’ve said that we also expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful and we’ll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing that, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line.”

Obama did not specifically mention sanctions, but officials with both the US and the EU have mentioned that possibility, according to the LA Times.


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