Little progress out of Ukraine talks, but vote planned on amnesty

KIEV, Ukraine -- Opposition leaders emerged from four hours of talks with Ukraine's president late Monday offering little comment to reporters or their supporters amid almost no sign of progress in negotiations.

Justice Minister Olena Lukash said the two sides had reached a "conceptual agreement" on a measure granting amnesty to detained protesters. She said parliament would vote on the bill Tuesday, the UNIAN news agency reported.

However, President Viktor Yanukovich reportedly imposed as conditions that all government buildings recently seized by the protesters be surrendered and roads and squares occupied by protesters be cleared of barricades and tents. “Otherwise the committed violations of law will not be amnestied,” Lukash said.

It was not immediately clear whether protesters who have occupied areas of Kiev for two months would accept those conditions.

Ukraine has been racked by anti-government protests since November, when Yanukovich turned down a trade accord that would have linked his country more closely to Western Europe and instead negotiated agreements with Russia, the country's onetime ruler.

The parliament also intends to cancel the controversial laws adopted this month that curbed freedom of assembly and speech, said Lukash, who was part of the negotiating team. Those laws, seen by the opposition as undemocratic, had become a point of contention in protests in recent days that have left four people dead and hundreds of both demonstrators and security officers injured.

The negotiations will be continued on other issues, Lukash said, though she did not address the question of early presidential and parliamentary elections sought by demonstrators. She also noted that opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk had rejected the premier's job offered to him Saturday by the president on condition that protests end.

Another opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko, emerged from the meeting only to say that he refused to discuss Yanukovich's offer for him to become vice premier in charge of humanitarian issues and expressed hope that Yanukovich would not introduce a state of emergency.

The talks crowned a day full of speculations that Yanukovich was ready to call a state of emergency in the country -- rumors denied by government officials.

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