Home > News > World
Friday January 31, 2014 MYT 1:15:02 PM
Friday January 31, 2014 MYT 1:15:56 PM
by lesley wroughton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet key Ukrainian opposition figures on Friday on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday, his first meeting with some of the leaders of an anti-government uprising against President Viktor Yanukovich.
Washington has welcomed talks in recent days between Yanukovich and the opposition groups to end two months of protests that began when Yanukovich rejected an EU trade deal in favor of closer ties and a financial bailout with Russia.
Among those attending the meeting with Kerry is Arseny Yatsenyuk, a former economy minister and leader of the party of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko; former boxing champion-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, who leads the Udar (Punch) party; Petro Poroshenko, a member of parliament; and Ukrainian pop star Ruslana Lyzhychko.
Yanukovich and opposition leaders agreed in talks on Monday to repeal some anti-protest laws, a key demand by the opposition. The sides also agreed that prisoners detained by police in the unrest should be granted amnesty although Yanukovich has made this conditional on protesters relinquishing control of all premises and roads they seized.
In addition, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned on Tuesday after a sharp escalation in street unrest and calls by the opposition for him to step down.
The senior State Department said the U.S. was "cautiously optimistic" about the negotiations between the government and opposition.
Discussions with Kerry would focus on ways to restore calm and relaunch the political process in Ukraine, including plans to form a new government, according to the official.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the opposition figures were attending the conference in Munich to discuss the situation in Ukraine with the international community.
While in Germany, Kerry will also meet Germany's new Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday in Berlin followed by talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is Kerry's first meeting with Merkel since leaked documents last year revealed Washington had been spying on EU citizens and bugged Merkel's mobile phone.
Later in Munich Kerry will also meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov before being joined by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who has just led the first round of Syria talks in Geneva aimed at ending the country's three-year civil war.
Kerry pressed Lavrov this week to step up pressure on Damascus to give up its chemical weapons. The United States on Thursday accused Syria of dragging its feet in giving up its chemical arsenal, saying that just 4 percent of its deadliest chemical agents had been shipped out of the country under a UN agreement.
A meeting between Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expected to focus on the next round of talks with Iran that could lead to a definitive settlement to a decade-old nuclear standoff. The talks between six world powers and Iran are expected to start within a few weeks.
Pope urges Latin America to find unity through common faith
Suspect in Charleston church shooting indicted on 9 murder counts
Greece sees no issues in paying July public sector salaries
Prospects of new Greek rescue rise at euro zone summit
Six powers, Iran to continue nuclear talks past deadline
The 3 unexpected life events that leave us in debt
Aikido master to visit KL
BookFest@Malaysia 2015 is officially launched
Wedding registries go high-tech
In celebration of The Star Online’s 20th birthday, we’re giving away tickets and vouchers. The fastest submission wins, so hurry!
Hurry, it’s first-come, first-served!
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Media Group Berhad (ROC 10894D)(Formerly known as Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad)