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Biden tells Yanukovych to pull back forces in Kiev

19 february 2014, 12:50
0
US Vice President Joe Biden. ©AFP
US Vice President Joe Biden. ©AFP
US Vice President Joe Biden intervened as a political crisis in Ukraine turned deadly Tuesday, calling President Viktor Yanukovych and saying government forces that stormed a protest camp should withdraw, AFP reports.

"Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych today to express grave concern regarding the crisis on the streets of Kiev. He called on President Yanukovych to pull back government forces and to exercise maximum restraint," a White House statement said.

US officials had watched with alarm as television pictures showed flames engulfing a camp manned by opposition protesters after government forces moved in on the bloodiest day in the standoff so far, with at least 12 people killed.

The White House said Biden made clear in the telephone call that the United States condemned violence by any side "but that the government bears special responsibility to de-escalate the situation."

"The vice president further underscored the urgency of immediate dialogue with opposition leaders to address protesters' legitimate grievances and to put forward serious proposals for political reform," the statement said.

"The United States is committed to supporting efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the crisis that reflects the will and aspirations of the Ukrainian people," it added.

Biden has repeatedly reached out to Yanukovych and opposition leaders in an effort to help bring an end to the political crisis.

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.

The United States also issued updated travel guidance, with the State Department urging citizens of "increased risks of travel to Ukraine because of the ongoing political unrest and violent clashes between police and protesters."

"US citizens are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations, and large gatherings," said a statement that also warned those who live in the vicinity of the protests to "leave those areas or prepare to remain indoors, possibly for several days, should clashes occur."

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