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Ukraine anti-government protesters call brief truce for new talks

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[January 23, 2014]  KIEV (Reuters)  Anti-government protesters in Ukraine agreed on Thursday to a truce of several hours in clashes with police while new talks took place between opposition leaders and President Viktor Yanukovich, Interfax news agency said.

Protesters, who have been bombarding police with petrol bombs and cobblestones in Kiev since Sunday, told opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko they would suspend further action until 8 p.m., the agency said.

Klitschko is one of three opposition leaders who has been leading demonstrations against Yanukovich since November, when he pulled out of signing a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Russia.

The unrest swelled into peaceful mass rallies against the four-year rule of Yanukovich which turned violent on Sunday when hard-core radicals broke away from the main protest area in the capital Kiev and clashed violently with riot police.

Three people have been killed on the side of protesters  two of them from gunshot wounds  and more than 150 police have been injured in the worst street violence in post-war Kiev.

Interfax said protesters agreed after Klitschko went to the barricades where protesters are confronting police from behind a curtain of black smoke from burning tyres and appealed to them to observe a truce until 8 p.m.

The new round of talks between Yanukovich and Klitschko, former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok were due to begin at 3 p.m., opposition sources said.

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In an initial round of talks on Wednesday, Yanukovich refused to make any real concessions to opposition leaders' demands for the dismissal of his government and repeal of sweeping anti-protest laws rammed through parliament by Yanukovich loyalists last week.

(Writing by Richard Balmforth; editing by Timothy Heritage)

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