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Ukraine President ready for talks, riots continue

Updated: 2013-12-10 15:19
( Xinhua)

Ukraine President ready for talks, riots continue

Supporters of EU integration line up in front of riot police with shields during a rally in Kiev, December 9, 2013. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich backed a call for talks with the opposition on Monday to end weeks of protests in Kiev, but tension was high with pro-Europe demonstrators barricading their protest camp in preparation for police intervention. [Photo/Agencies]

KIEV - Ukrainian protestors, ignoring President Viktor Yanukovych's plan for round table talks, refused to leave the capital's streets and staged around-clock protests into Tuesday morning.

Yanukovych on Monday said he is ready to hold round table talks with the opposition over the ongoing anti-government protests, as thousands of protestors continued to block roads and camped outside government buildings in capital Kiev.

"The round table can become a platform for understanding," the presidential press service said in a statement, without mentioning the specific date of the talks.

The "nationwide round table," which will be joined by Ukrainian government representatives and opposition leaders, aims to seek a compromised solution to the political tensions in the country, according to the statement.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said last week that his government was ready to enter into negotiations with opposition leaders.

"We are ready to create a negotiating group to normalize the situation in the capital," Azarov said.

He once again called on demonstrators to stop their blockade of administrative buildings to resume the normal functioning of government agencies.

On Monday afternoon, cordons of riot police moved into the Independence Square of downtown Kiev, trying to regain control of the square and the Kiev city hall, which were occupied by protesters in the past week.

Asking women and children to leave the square as rumors spread that it could be stormed, main opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko called on all supporters to show their anger peacefully, warning the government not to disperse protesters with force.

"If blood is spilled during the breaking-up, this blood will be on the hands of the person who ordered it...Yanukovych," said the former heavyweight boxing champion.

Meanwhile, a fake bomb threat on Monday afternoon disrupted the subway service in the Ukrainian capital, where three metro stations were closed for more than four hours.

Some local opposition media claimed that the metro stations were shut down because the riot police were based there, preparing to storm the protest in central Kiev.

Fearing further escalation, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Monday called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to voice "deep concern" about the "growing potential for violence" in Ukraine, urging his government to de-escalate the situation.

Biden "underscored the need to immediately de-escalate the situation and begin a dialogue with opposition leaders on developing a consensus way forward for Ukraine," the White House said in a readout of the phone conversation.

"The vice president reaffirmed the strong support of the United States for Ukraine's European aspirations and welcomed President Yanukovych's commitment to maintaining this path," the White House said.

Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief, and Victoria Nuland, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, will travel to Kiev on Tuesday.

Protest in Ukraine began 19 days ago, starting as peaceful demonstration backing the country's European integration, but soon snowballing into a violent nationwide movement against the authorities.

Ukraine was expected to sign partnership agreements with the European Union at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on November 28-29, but put the deal on hold for closer trade ties with Russia instead. The announcement triggered waves of protests in major Ukrainian cities.

Furious about both the government's decision and the violent dispersion of earlier demonstrations, protesters now demand the impeachment of President Yanukovych, resignation of the government and disbandment of parliament.


Ukraine President ready for talks, riots continue  Ukraine President ready for talks, riots continue 
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