Friday, April 18, 2014

Geneva Talks Produce Agreement on Conflict in Ukraine

The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have reached agreement on a series of immediate steps aimed at pulling eastern Ukraine back from the brink of war. The deal, clinched after a dramatic extended meeting in Geneva, calls for the disarming of all illegal groups. In the next few days they would have to vacate all the government buildings and public spaces they have occupied over the course of the crisis. In return, the protesters in eastern Ukraine would be offered amnesty for all but capital crimes and the government in Kiev would immediately start a process of public consultation aimed at devolving constitutional powers to the provinces. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be given the job not only of making sure the agreement will be put into practice but also of helping to implement it. The US, Russia and European countries would provide monitors to beef up the OSCE's manpower, which would be given access across Ukraine. Barack Obama cautiously welcomed the talks, describing the agreement endorsed by the four parties as a "glimmer of hope". But he insisted Russia still needed to see through its commitment to calming tensions in Ukraine, adding: "We're not going to count on it until we see it."

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