Ukraine Heating Up
Update: Compromise Agreement Reached
Ukrainian rivals President Viktor Yushchenko and PM Viktor Yanukovych have agreed to hold early elections in September, the president has said.
The announcement early on Sunday morning followed more than 12 hours of talks between the two men aimed at ending a long-running political crisis.
Mr Yushchenko said the crisis was now "finished" and a compromise reached.
In April, the president dissolved parliament, accusing his rival of trying to usurp his power.
The talks started after several hours' delay and went on into the early hours of Sunday morning.
Key lawmakers, including opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, also attended.
Both men accepted that there had to be a new vote to resolve their dispute.
Ukraine's prime minister accused President Viktor Yushchenko of preparing to use force in their struggle for supremacy after Yushchenko said on Friday he was taking control of interior ministry troops.
Yushchenko issued his decree hours after riot police loyal to the prime minister took over a building housing the prosecutor general's office in Kiev following scuffles.
The decree concerns troops largely responsible for maintaining public order and not the army, which is controlled by one of pro-western Yushchenko's few allies in the cabinet. He ordered the interior ministry troops to protect key sites.
Yanukovich denounced the president's move as dangerous and unconstitutional. It presaged, he said, an attempt to use force to resolve Ukraine's long-running political crisis.
Several thousand interior troops streamed to Ukraine's capital Saturday, strengthening President Viktor Yushchenko's hand in a bitter dispute with the nation's prime minister that stoked up fears of violence in the ex-Soviet nation.
Renewed tensions between Mr. Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych have been building for weeks, and the president's move to take direct control over interior troops appeared to suggest rising concern over possible clashes.
Interior troops answer to Interior Minister Vasyl Tsushko, a Yanukovych loyalist, but Interior troops' commander, Gen. Oleksandr Kikhtenko, is seen as a Yushchenko ally. A conflict between top officials could affect the troops' loyalties, which remained unclear.
The country's political crisis escalated Thursday when Mr. Yushchenko fired his longtime foe Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun and riot police units loyal to Mr. Yanukovych moved to protect him from ouster, resulting in scuffles with security officers loyal to Mr. Yushchenko.
Ukraine rivals hold crisis talks
A new round of crisis talks between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych is taking place in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
The talks, which were delayed by several hours, are aimed at resolving a increasingly bitter power struggle between the two leaders.
The two held late-night talks on Friday but failed to reach an agreement.
The meeting came as about 2,000 interior ministry troops loyal to Mr Yushchenko headed towards the capital.
The latest round of political turmoil in Ukraine began last month when Mr. Yushchenko issued another decree dissolving parliament and setting a date for new elections.
Prime Minister Yanukovich and his supporters have refused to recognize those orders.
Tensions between the reformist president and the prime minister, who favors closer ties with Russia, have been simmering since 2004, when the two men were rivals in a controversial presidential election.
European Reaction from Czech Summit in Brno
Leaders from 15 European countries voiced concern at the political crisis in Ukraine, at a two-day summit here, it was announced at the end of the meeting, AFP reported.
"We are determined to prevent any possible instability in this region threatening the world around us," said Czech President Vaclav Klaus who hosted the meeting in Brno of 15 presidents from central, eastern and southern Europe.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko called off a planned visit to Brno at the last minute because of the escalating political tensions at home.
Crisis Talks Delayed
Ukraine's feuding president and prime minister declared a brief pause in their crisis talks on Saturday, AFP reported.
The talks were suspended after about two and a half hours and were due to restart at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT), said Denis Ivanesko, a spokesman for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych's meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko, the second in two days, began earlier Saturday after a delay of more than two hours.
A power struggle between Yushchenko and Yanukovych has deteriorated in the last two days as both sides claim loyalty of rival security forces.