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EU, U.S, Germany and France welcome Ukraine agreement

EC President Van Rompuy and French President Hollande say they support the agreement signed by Ukraine's Yanukovych and opposition on Friday. White House spokesman says Washington commends opposition for its strength.

EU, U.S, Germany and France welcome Ukraine agreement


The White House welcomed the signing of an accord between the Ukrainian government and opposition leaders Friday.

"We support the efforts of all those who negotiated this agreement, commend the courageous opposition leaders who recognized the need for compromise, and offer the support of the United States in its implementation," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement released to the press.

The agreement calls for early elections and a new government. 

Following the signing, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) restored the 2004 constitution.

Russia, a strong supporter of Yanukovych, was not a signatory to the agreement.

The White House again called for those responsible for the violence to be held accountable, saying it was prepared to "impose additional sanctions if necessary."

Carney added that the U.S. will stand with the Ukrainian people "as they work to restore peace, security, and human dignity across the country and determine the future course of their nation."

- The European Union has welcomed the agreement reached on Friday between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders. 

In a written statement, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said he welcomed the agreement, describing it as a necessary compromise for a democratic, peaceful way out of the crisis.

Rompuy said the EU continues to stand by Ukraine.

"The agreement was facilitated by the important work of the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Poland and the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation and based on the persistent efforts of the last two months by High Representative Ashton and Commissioner Fule," he added.

French President Francois Hollande also welcomed the agreement and called for a "full and timely implementation of the deal."

"After the unacceptable, intolerable and unjustifiable violence that has plunged Ukraine into mourning in recent days, France calls for the full and timely implementation of the deal that has just been signed," he said.

Three European foreign ministers - France's Laurent Fabius, Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Poland's Radoslaw Sikorski - brokered the peace deal and praised Yanukovych and the opposition for their "courage" in agreeing to end the standoff.

The agreement stipulates a return to the 2004 Constitution within 48 hours and calls for early presidential elections.

The crisis-ending agreement is expected to help end EU sanctions against Ukraine, which were agreed on during yesterday's extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. 

Dozens were killed in violent clashes on Thursday, according to a statement from Ukraine's Health Ministry.

Mass anti-government protests began in November when Yanukovych refused to sign a free trade agreement with the EU amid pressure from Russia. 

- Germany FM expresses cautious optimism after Ukraine deal

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has welcomed an agreement signed today between Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders, but warned that difficulties lay ahead.

"This might have been the last chance to find an exit and end the violence," Steinmeier said.

"Not all of the problems are solved," Steinmeier cautioned, but added that the agreement opened the way for a political solution to the crisis. 

"There is reason to look forward with confidence," he said.

Steinmeier, together with France’s Foreign Minister Fabius Laurent and Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski carried out marathon talks with the government and the opposition after deadly clashes broke out early Thursday morning.

The three welcomed the agreement and called for an immediate end to the violence.

"The Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Poland welcome the signing of the agreement and commend the parties for their courage and commitment to the deal. We call for an immediate end to all violence and confrontation in Ukraine," said a joint statement released by the German Foreign Ministry. 

Germany's government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday, "This might be the last chance for a political process to come out of this deep crisis in Ukraine."

"We are witnessing a terrible human tragedy. Dozens of deaths within a few hours," Seibert noted. He also said that it was the duty of all to ensure that the protests remain non-violent, adding, "It is the duty of the Ukrainian government to create the conditions for nonviolence and an opportunity for peaceful free expression."

Seibert said the German government strongly condemned the week's violence and Chancellor Angela Merkel was shocked by the events. 

He said Merkel had a phone conversation with Viktor Yanukovych yesterday and convinced him to receive the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland as moderators of talks between the government and the opposition.


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