Biden warns Ukraine president of 'consequences' to more violence

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:46pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden phoned Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Thursday and urged him to end violence against protestors in Kiev, warning him that failing to de-escalate the standoff could have "consequences," the White House said.

"The Vice President underscored that only the government of Ukraine can ensure a peaceful end to the crisis and further bloodshed would have consequences for Ukraine's relationship with the United States," the White House said.

Yanukovich on Thursday called for an emergency session of parliament to try to end the violent unrest between protestors and police in Kiev.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the government needs to take "concrete steps" to resolve the crisis, including repealing what he called "anti-democratic legislation," and withdrawing riot police from downtown Kiev.

"This increasing tension in Ukraine is a direct consequence of the government failing to acknowledge the legitimate grievances of its people," Carney said.

Carney said the United States will consider sanctions to respond to the use of violence, and noted that the State Department has revoked visas for several people responsible for violence in the country.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton, Jeff Mason; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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