US praises Ukraine deal; calls for concrete action

WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday praised an agreement between Ukraine's president and the opposition to end violence and said it should be implemented immediately.
 
White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement that the U.S. offers its support and that the deal is consistent with what Washington was advocating. Carney said the U.S. will closely monitor whether there is concrete action to implement it.
 
Ukraine's parliament voted to give protesters amnesty and restore a previous constitution that limits presidential powers as part of an agreement signed Friday. The deal is aimed at ending a three-month political crisis that exploded this week into deadly violence.
 
Obama was preparing to speak Friday afternoon about the deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House said. The months-long standoff was fueled by protesters angry that Ukraine was abandoning closer ties with Europe in favor of a deal with longtime ruler Russia.
 
Carney said the U.S. commends the courageous opposition leaders. He said the U.S. remains ready to impose more sanctions if necessary to hold accountable those responsible for violence.
 
At the Pentagon, military officials were trying to arrange a phone call for later in the day between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Ukrainian counterpart. The Pentagon said Thursday that the ministry of defense in Kiev was not accepting Hagel's calls, but on Friday military officials received word through U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO commander in Europe, that Ukrainian Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedyev wanted to talk.

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