Yanukovich Agrees 'Truce' with Ukraine Opposition, Start to Negotiations

Ukraine burning
With 26 people dead following a historic wave of violence in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich met with opposition leaders and said that he had agreed to both a truce and negotiations Rostyslav Kovalchuk/Reuters

(Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Wednesday he had agreed a "truce" with opposition leaders, after street violence in which at least 26 people were killed, and a start to negotiations to end further bloodshed.

A statement on the presidential website said that during talks with the three main opposition leaders, Yanukovich had agreed firstly a truce and secondly "the start to negotiations with the aim of ending bloodshed, and stabilizing the situation in the state in the interests of social peace."

The statement, issued on the eve of a visit by the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France, appeared to indicate that riot police who on Tuesday night advanced on to Kiev's Independence Square would not take further immediate steps to break up the encampment of protesters.

Former economy minister Arseny Yatseniuk, one of the opposition leaders, said in a statement on the website of his Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party: "The storming of the Maidan (Independence Square) which the authorities had planned today will not take place.

"A truce has been declared. The main thing is to protect human life," he said.

Yanukovich issued his statement after meeting Yatseniuk and the two other opposition leaders, boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko and far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok.

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