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Published: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 12:45:03 AM
Updated: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 12:45:53 AM

Ukraine's Yanukovich backs 'compromise' as sole way out of crisis

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich told a senior U.S. official on Thursday that "dialogue and compromise" were the only way out of the political crisis gripping Ukraine, his website said.

Yanukovich met U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to discuss a solution to anti-government protests which have swept the ex-Soviet republic since November last year.

They discussed political reform and possible further negotiations between the President and opposition leaders, the website said.

"It is only through dialogue and compromise that we can carry the country out of this political crisis," Yanukovich was quoted as saying.

Yanukovich later left Ukraine to attend the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where he was expected to have talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In talks with Nuland, Yanukovich said he supported opposition demands for reform of the constitution though this had to be carried out through a process involving the constitutional court and further hearings in parliament.

He also backed moves to speed up the process of releasing activists detained in the civil unrest, the website said, though Yanukovich has supported a law that provides an amnesty for detainees only on condition that occupied public buildings are cleared of protesters.

Protests began when Yanukovich spurned an EU trade agreement last year in pursuit of closer ties with Russia. Protesters have since taken over public buildings and staged mass rallies, sometimes clashing violently with police, in the capital Kiev and other cities.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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