U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says there’s no time to lose in bringing about a peaceful resolution to a standoff between Ukraine’s government and protesters.
Mr. Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Monday. It’s the second time Biden has spoken to Mr. Yanukovych in less than a week.
The White House said Mr. Biden offered U.S. support for negotiations to end the standoff. The call comes as Mr. Yanukovych is agreeing to scrap harsh anti—protest laws that set off clashes.
Mr. Biden warned Mr. Yanukovych against harsh security measures like declaring a state of emergency that he said would further inflame the situation. He called for Ukraine to pull back riot police and to respond to the Ukrainian people’s grievances.
The White House has previously threatened sanctions on Ukraine if the use of violence continues.
Ready to scrap anti-protest law: Yanukovych
Ukraine’s beleaguered president on Monday agreed to scrap harsh anti—protest laws that set off a wave of clashes between protesters and police over the past week, a potentially substantial concession to the opposition that stopped short of meeting all of its demands.
In a possibly major sticking point, a proposed amnesty for arrested protesters would not be offered unless demonstrators stopped occupying buildings and ended their round—the—clock protests and tent camp on Kiev’s central Independence Square, according to a statement by Justice Minister Elena Lukash on the presidential website.
President Viktor Yanukovych has been under increasing pressure since he pushed the tough laws through parliament, setting of clashes and protests in other parts of the country in a sharp escalation of tensions after weeks of mostly peaceful protests over his rejection of a deal to deepen ties with the 28—nation European Union.
At a meeting between top opposition figures and Yanukovych late Monday “a political decision was made on scrapping the laws of Jan. 16, which aroused much discussion,” Lukash said.
She made no mention of a key opposition demand that Yanukovych resign.
One of the opposition figures, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, turned down the prime minister’s job, which Yanukovych had offered him on Saturday, the statement said.