But with the opposition unlikely to take part, a breakthrough
was unlikely at the "round-table" talks including other
politicians, church leaders and former President Leonid
Thousands of protesters have rallied in a square at the heart of
the capital Kiev for three weeks over the government's U-turn on
policy away from the European Union towards Russia. They are
demanding Yanukovich step down.
Yanukovich, who has said he still plans to sign an association
agreement with the European Union, held talks with his three
successors as president this week, but the opposition did not
EU and U.S. officials have called on Yanukovich to start a
dialogue with all parties taking part in the protests.
Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, added his voice to the
calls, saying: "I am in favor of talks, so that politicians,
authorities, the opposition ... sit at the negotiating table and
agree on something we can be proud of."
Vitaly Klitschko, a top opposition politician, said this week he
would not hold talks with Yanukovich after protesters were
attacked by riot police at a demonstration. A spokeswoman said
on Friday Klitschko's position had not changed.
Independent political analysts say the opposition is unlikely to
attend any talks until Yanukovich signals he will meet at least
some of their demands, which include the government's
resignation, the release of what they call political prisoners
and the prosecution of the riot police who wounded protesters.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, writing by Elizabeth Piper,
Editing by Timothy Heritage)
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