Ukraine talks fail to end deadlock, uneasy truce holds

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Ukraine talks fail to end deadlock, uneasy truce holds
Ukranian police troops are seen at the site of clashes with anti-government protesters in Kiev January 24, 2014.

KIEV, Ukraine - Crunch talks between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych failed Thursday to end Ukraine's crisis but an uneasy truce held after five days of deadly clashes between protesters and security forces.

Ukraine's three main opposition leaders held several hours of talks with Yanukovych but the relatively minor concessions offered by the president were greeted with derision by tens of thousands of protesters on Independence Square in Kiev.

In a development likely to severely alarm the embattled Yanukovych, angry protesters in half a dozen regions in the nationalist west of Ukraine seized control of regional adminstration buildings.

This week's clashes, which came after two months of protests over Yanukovych's failure to sign an integration deal with the European Union under Russia pressure, have turned parts of Kiev into a battle zone and left five activists dead.

After four hours of talks with Yanukovych the leader of the opposition Fatherland party, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said there is a "high" chance of finding a solution to end the bloodshed.

But world boxing champion and UDAR (Punch) party leader Vitali Klitschko later said the president appeared to be turning a deaf ear to the opposition's key demand of the resignation of the government.

"I feel how tense the atmosphere is. I feel how great the hopes are. It (the outcome of the talks) is going to disappoint you," he said.

The leader of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party Oleg Tyagnybok specified that the authorities had vowed to release activists arrested during the protests.

He also said there was a proposal to create a buffer zone between protesters and security forces that would leave the main protest camp on Independence Square untouched by police.

Both these statements were confirmed by the general prosecutor's office and the interior ministry.

But when Tyagnybok asked for a show of hands about whether the talks should continue, the answer was clearly negative. It is not clear when the talks will resume.

Parliament speaker Volodymyr Rybak said parliament would meet on Tuesday to discuss the protesters' demands for the government's resignation and the annulment of a controversial anti-protest law at a session expected on Tuesday, the presidency said in a statement.

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