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Ukraine president announces truce with protesters

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has announced truce and the start of direct talks with the opposition in a bid to end months of turmoil in the country.

The president made the announcement on Wednesday after holding private talks with opposition leaders, including boxer and parliamentarian, Vitali Klitschko.

“Based on the results of the meeting, the sides announced a truce and the start of a negotiations process aimed at ending the bloodshed (and) stabilizing the situation in the country for the benefit of civil peace,” said a statement posted on the president’s website.

The announcement, which gave no details of how a truce would be implemented, followed a flare-up of violence that left 26 people dead in the capital, Kiev, on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Yanukovych fired the head of the armed forces, Col. Gen. Volodymyr Zamana, after the state security service announced it was launching a nationwide “anti-terrorist” campaign to deal with the ongoing violence in the country.

Oleksandr Yakymenko, Ukraine’s security service chief, announced the nationwide anti-terrorist operation after “extremist groups” seized government buildings and arms depots.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated the possibility of applying sanctions against Ukraine.

The European Union has also said the bloc is considering imposing sanctions on the country, with France and Germany demanding targeted measures against the Ukrainian leadership.

Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests since Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the EU on November 29 last year in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Kiev and Moscow reached a strategic economic and trade deal last December, which provides Ukraine with significant discounts on imported Russian gas and billions of dollars in credit.


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