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UK's Cameron tells Ukraine to pull back government forces

Source: Reuters - Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:06 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Updates with full statement)

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday called on the Ukrainian authorities to pull back security forces surrounding protesters in Kiev, telling Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich the world was closely watching his actions.

"I am deeply concerned by the scenes we are witnessing in Ukraine," Cameron said in a statement released by his office. "The violence on all sides is completely unacceptable and President Yanukovich has a particular responsibility to pull back government forces and de-escalate the situation.

"President Yanukovich should be under no doubt that the world is watching his actions and that those responsible for violence will be held accountable."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is attending an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on Ukraine on Thursday, had earlier said that the Ukrainian government should be held accountable for violence security forces had used during protests which killed at least 26 people.

Cameron called on Yanukovich to hold more talks with the opposition to try to hammer out political reforms that reflected what he called the "democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people".

"There must be a clear commitment to the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and civil freedoms," said Cameron. "This is a critical moment for the future of Ukraine". (Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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