Barack Obama says Ukraine truce welcome ‘if implemented’

TOLUCA, Mexico: US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday that news of a truce between Ukraine’s government and opposition would be welcome if it leads to dialogue.

The two leaders “strongly condemned” the violence in Ukraine during a North American summit in Toluca, Mexico, according to the White House. “The leaders noted reports of a truce between the government and the opposition which, if implemented, would be a welcome step forward in pursuing that meaningful dialogue,” a statement added.

“They agreed they will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that actions mirror words,” it said in a readout of the leaders’ 30-minute meeting. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych announced the start of direct talks with the opposition after receiving three top anti-government lawmakers in a presidential office less than a block from the site of the unrest.

The embattled leader was under mounting pressures after clashes between police and anti-government protesters left at least 26 people dead in Kiev on Tuesday. The White House warned that it was considering possible sanctions against those behind the unrest. The 28-nation European Union will hold emergency talks Thursday to mull sanctions in the wake of clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Kiev that left at least 26 people dead.

The White House said Obama and Harper “both resolved to work closely with European allies on options for additional measures, including measures to hold those responsible for violence accountable.” Obama and Harper said the Ukrainian military should show restraint and refrain from getting involved in issues that should be resolved by civilians.

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