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US praises Ukraine deal, calls for concrete action

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Friday called for quick implementation of an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence, yet warned the deal was fragile and that it could prove difficult to persuade hard-line protesters to lay down their weapons.

The two sides in Ukraine are fighting over whether the nation of 46 million will have closer ties to the West or to Russia. The protests began in late November after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych turned away from a long-anticipated deal for closer ties with the European Union. After Yanukovych shelved the agreement with the EU, Russia announced a $15 billion bailout for economically battered Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the deal, which restores a previous constitution that limits presidential powers, was consistent with what Washington was advocating, but he added that the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to put it in motion.

The White House has been considering levying sanctions on officials in Ukraine who were responsible for stoking the violence, but Carney indicated that the U.S. would hold off while monitoring the implementation of Friday’s accord.

“Our focus today is on working with our European partners as well as the government and the opposition in Ukraine to ensure the agreement’s implementation,” Carney said. “We are not ruling out sanctions to hold those responsible for the violence accountable, especially should there be further violence or violation of the agreement.”

A senior State Department official, who is closely following the unrest in Ukraine, downplayed tensions that have developed between the U.S. and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, depicting President Barack Obama’s more than one-hour call on Friday to Russian President Vladimir Putin as constructive. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and would brief reporters only on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, their conversation was about the opportunity that the agreement has provided to stabilize Ukraine, end violence and provide a peaceful outcome and that Russia wants to be part of implementing the agreement. It was a commitment that Ukraine has been pulled back from the brink and that all parties need to be supportive of reaching political unity and getting the economy of the nation back on track, the official said.

The official said Putin did not complain during the call that the U.S. was meddling in the Ukraine, once a satellite of the former Soviet Union.

The State Department official described the agreement as “very, very fragile” and said that the opposition had a “hard sell” in persuading protesters to disarm and end their standoff with the government.

In recent days, there has been a flurry of telephone diplomacy between U.S. officials and leaders in Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev, by phone on Friday. Lebedev told Hagel that Ukraine’s military won’t use weapons against its people and that their deployment focused on protecting military facilities, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Hagel commended Ukraine’s move to keep the military on the sidelines of the crisis, the Pentagon said. The U.S. defense chief had tried several times to reach Lebedev earlier in the week but, according to the Pentagon, those calls were not accepted.

In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on Friday with three senior members of the opposition to express continued support, and Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for Europe, spoke with the foreign minister of the Ukraine. On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden had a more than hourlong conversation with the Ukraine president – their ninth call since November, the official said.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is expected to travel to Kiev early next week and Nuland is slated to be in the Ukraine in early March, the official said.

Associated Press writers Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.

US praises Ukraine deal, calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Friday called for quick implementation of an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence, yet warned the deal was fragile and that it could prove difficult to persuade hard-line protesters to lay down their weapons.

The two sides in Ukraine are fighting over whether the nation of 46 million will have closer ties to the West or to Russia. The protests began in late November after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych turned away from a long-anticipated deal for closer ties with the European Union. After Yanukovych shelved the agreement with the EU, Russia announced a $15 billion bailout for economically battered Ukraine.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the deal, which restores a previous constitution that limits presidential powers, was consistent with what Washington was advocating, but he added that the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to put it in motion.

The White House has been considering levying sanctions on officials in Ukraine who were responsible for stoking the violence, but Carney indicated that the U.S. would hold off while monitoring the implementation of Friday’s accord.

“Our focus today is on working with our European partners as well as the government and the opposition in Ukraine to ensure the agreement’s implementation,” Carney said. “We are not ruling out sanctions to hold those responsible for the violence accountable, especially should there be further violence or violation of the agreement.”

A senior State Department official, who is closely following the unrest in Ukraine, downplayed tensions that have developed between the U.S. and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, depicting President Barack Obama’s more than one-hour call on Friday to Russian President Vladimir Putin as constructive. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and would brief reporters only on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, their conversation was about the opportunity that the agreement has provided to stabilize Ukraine, end violence and provide a peaceful outcome and that Russia wants to be part of implementing the agreement. It was a commitment that Ukraine has been pulled back from the brink and that all parties need to be supportive of reaching political unity and getting the economy of the nation back on track, the official said.

The official said Putin did not complain during the call that the U.S. was meddling in the Ukraine, once a satellite of the former Soviet Union.

The State Department official described the agreement as “very, very fragile” and said that the opposition had a “hard sell” in persuading protesters to disarm and end their standoff with the government.

In recent days, there has been a flurry of telephone diplomacy between U.S. officials and leaders in Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev, by phone on Friday. Lebedev told Hagel that Ukraine’s military won’t use weapons against its people and that their deployment focused on protecting military facilities, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Hagel commended Ukraine’s move to keep the military on the sidelines of the crisis, the Pentagon said. The U.S. defense chief had tried several times to reach Lebedev earlier in the week but, according to the Pentagon, those calls were not accepted.

In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on Friday with three senior members of the opposition to express continued support, and Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for Europe, spoke with the foreign minister of the Ukraine. On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden had a more than hourlong conversation with the Ukraine president – their ninth call since November, the official said.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is expected to travel to Kiev early next week and Nuland is slated to be in the Ukraine in early March, the official said.

Associated Press writers Josh Lederman and Nedra Pickler in Washington contributed to this report.

US praises Ukraine deal, calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the deal was consistent with what Washington was advocating, but added that the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it.

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed the agreement, which is aimed at ending the months-long standoff fueled by public anger that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

The White House had been considering levying sanctions on officials in Ukraine who were responsible for stoking the violence, but Carney indicated that the U.S. would hold off while monitoring the implementation of Friday’s accord.

“Our focus today is on working with our European partners as well as the government and the opposition in Ukraine to ensure the agreement’s implementation,” Carney said. “We are not ruling out sanctions to hold those responsible for the violence accountable, especially should there be further violence or violation of the agreement.”

Friday’s agreement restores a previous constitution that limits presidential powers. Ukraine’s parliament also voted to give the protesters amnesty.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev, by phone on Friday. Lebedev told Hagel that Ukraine’s military won’t use weapons against its people and that their deployment focused on protecting military facilities, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Hagel commended Ukraine’s move to keep the military on the sidelines of the crisis, the Pentagon said. The U.S. defense chief had tried several times to reach Lebedev earlier in the week but, according to the Pentagon, those calls were not accepted.

US praises Ukraine deal, calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the deal was consistent with what Washington was advocating, but added that the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it.

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed the agreement, which is aimed at ending the months-long standoff fueled by public anger that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

The White House had been considering levying sanctions on officials in Ukraine who were responsible for stoking the violence, but Carney indicated that the U.S. would hold off while monitoring the implementation of Friday’s accord.

“Our focus today is on working with our European partners as well as the government and the opposition in Ukraine to ensure the agreement’s implementation,” Carney said. “We are not ruling out sanctions to hold those responsible for the violence accountable, especially should there be further violence or violation of the agreement.”

Friday’s agreement restores a previous constitution that limits presidential powers. Ukraine’s parliament also voted to give the protesters amnesty.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev, by phone on Friday. Lebedev told Hagel that Ukraine’s military won’t use weapons against its people and that their deployment focused on protecting military facilities, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Hagel commended Ukraine’s move to keep the military on the sidelines of the crisis, the Pentagon said. The U.S. defense chief had tried several times to reach Lebedev earlier in the week but, according to the Pentagon, those calls were not accepted.

US praises Ukraine deal; calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the deal was consistent with what Washington was advocating, but added that the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin also discussed the agreement, which is aimed at ending the months-long standoff fueled by public anger that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

The White House had been considering levying sanctions on officials in Ukraine who were responsible for stoking the violence, but Carney indicated that the U.S. would hold off while monitoring the implementation of Friday’s accord.

“Our focus today is on working with our European partners as well as the government and the opposition in Ukraine to ensure the agreement’s implementation,” Carney said. “We are not ruling out sanctions to hold those responsible for the violence accountable, especially should there be further violence or violation of the agreement.”

Friday’s agreement restores a previous constitution that limits presidential powers. Ukraine’s parliament also voted to give the protesters amnesty.

At the Pentagon, military officials were trying to arrange a phone call for later in the day between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Ukrainian counterpart. The Pentagon said Thursday that the ministry of defense in Kiev was not accepting Hagel’s calls, but on Friday military officials received word through U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander in Europe, that Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedyev wanted to talk.

US praises Ukraine deal; calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement that the U.S. offers its support and that the deal is consistent with what Washington was advocating. Carney said the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to give protesters amnesty and restore a previous constitution that limits presidential powers as part of an agreement signed Friday. The deal is aimed at ending a three-month political crisis that exploded this week into deadly violence.

Obama was preparing to speak Friday afternoon about the deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said. The months-long standoff was fueled by protesters angry that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

Carney said the U.S. commends the courageous opposition leaders. He said the U.S. remains ready to impose more sanctions if necessary to hold accountable those responsible for violence.

At the Pentagon, military officials were trying to arrange a phone call for later in the day between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Ukrainian counterpart. The Pentagon said Thursday that the ministry of defense in Kiev was not accepting Hagel’s calls, but on Friday military officials received word through U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander in Europe, that Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedyev wanted to talk.

US praises Ukraine deal; calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement that the U.S. offers its support and that the deal is consistent with what Washington was advocating. Carney said the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to give protesters amnesty and restore a previous constitution that limits presidential powers as part of an agreement signed Friday. The deal is aimed at ending a three-month political crisis that exploded this week into deadly violence.

Obama was preparing to speak Friday afternoon about the deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said. The months-long standoff was fueled by protesters angry that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

Carney said the U.S. commends the courageous opposition leaders. He said the U.S. remains ready to impose more sanctions if necessary to hold accountable those responsible for violence.

At the Pentagon, military officials were trying to arrange a phone call for later in the day between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Ukrainian counterpart. The Pentagon said Thursday that the ministry of defense in Kiev was not accepting Hagel’s calls, but on Friday military officials received word through U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander in Europe, that Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedyev wanted to talk.

US praises Ukraine deal; calls for concrete action

KDWN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine’s president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement that the U.S. offers its support and that the deal is consistent with what Washington was advocating. Carney said the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to give protesters amnesty and restore a previous constitution that limits presidential powers as part of an agreement signed Friday. The deal is aimed at ending a three-month political crisis that exploded this week into deadly violence.

Obama was preparing to speak Friday afternoon about the deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said. The months-long standoff was fueled by protesters angry that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.

Carney said the U.S. commends the courageous opposition leaders. He said the U.S. remains ready to impose more sanctions if necessary to hold accountable those responsible for violence.

At the Pentagon, military officials were trying to arrange a phone call for later in the day between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Ukrainian counterpart. The Pentagon said Thursday that the ministry of defense in Kiev was not accepting Hagel’s calls, but on Friday military officials received word through U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander in Europe, that Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedyev wanted to talk.