US demands Ukrainian President Yanukovych to 'end' violence in Kiev
WASHINGTON - Agence France-PresseThe United States called Feb. 18 on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to "end" violence in Kiev, saying it was appalled by clashes between riot police and demonstrators that killed five people.
"We are appalled by the violence taking place in downtown Kiev. We urge President Yanukovych to immediately de-escalate the situation and end the confrontation at Maidan," the city's Independence Square, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Magnuson said the excessive use of force on either side of Ukraine's political divide would not resolve the crisis. She also urged the president to start a dialogue with the opposition immediately.
At least five people were killed and scores injured as anti-government protestors battled riot police in Kiev in the first outbreak of violence in weeks.
Security forces issued an ultimatum that they would use "grave actions" if violence did not cease by 1600 GMT. Tuesday's violence marked the first such outburst since mid-January in the Ukrainian capital, which has been wracked by anti-government demonstrations since Yanukovych in November rejected a European Union pact in favor of closer ties with historical master Russia.
EU, NATO deplore escalation of violence
Meanwhile EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "deeply worried about the grave new escalation", saying in a statement that she condemned "all use of violence, including against public or party buildings."
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "seriously concerned" and urged "all parties to refrain from violence and to urgently resume dialogue, including through the parliamentary process."
Ashton called as well for an urgent return to a parliamentary process. "Political leaders must now assume their shared responsibility to rebuild trust and create the conditions for an effective solution to the political crisis," she said.
"A solution should include the formation of a new inclusive government, progress on constitutional reform and the preparation for transparent and democratic presidential elections. The EU stands ready to assist Ukraine in this process."