White House welcomes Ukraine deal, still prepared to impose sanctions if needed

by Reuters
Friday, 21 February 2014 17:01 GMT

(Adds details, quotes, paragraphs 3-9)

WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The White House welcomed a deal aimed at halting bloody clashes between government forces and protesters in Ukraine on Friday but said the United States remains prepared to impose sanctions if needed.

"Now the focus must be on implementing this agreement, which we will be monitoring closely," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Senior U.S. officials had been preparing new sanctions to impose on Ukraine's government after dozens of people were killed in Kiev during mass demonstrations this week.

The peace deal, mediated by the European Union, appeared to head that off for the time being as President Barack Obama waits to see whether the agreement leads to an end to violence.

The White House statement said details of the agreement are consistent with what the United States has been urging, such as a de-escalation of the violence, constitutional change, a coalition government and early elections.

"We support the efforts of all those who negotiated this agreement, commend the courageous opposition leaders who recognized the need for compromise, and offer the support of the United States in its implementation," Carney said.

The initial steps should be implemented immediately, including an end to violence, in order to provide space for the negotiations to begin on a formation of a technocratic coalition government, the statement said.

The White House reiterated that those responsible for the violence must be held accountable. "We remain prepared to impose additional sanctions as necessary," Carney said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Will Dunham)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.