Ukraine chief updates Biden on moves to defuse crisis

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych called Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday to update him on a chaotic day in the country's parliament that saw the resignation of the prime minister and the repeal of most of a controversial package of anti-protest laws.

"The Vice President welcomed the progress made today and urged President Yanukovych to sign the parliament’s repeal of several of the January 16 laws without delay," the White House said in a statement. "He strongly encouraged President Yanukovych to continue to work with the opposition to find compromises critical to a peaceful solution."

In addition to the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, Yanukovych said he was dismissing the remainder of his Cabinet.

The departures and roll-backs were concessions to an opposition movement that has intensified in recent weeks, following an attempted crackdown on those protesting against Yanukovych.

Opposition demonstrators, angered by the Ukranian president’s decision against signing a trade deal with the European Union, have called for his resignation and new elections.

In their phone conversation — the third in less than a week — Biden encouraged Yanukovych to also move on other compromises to satisfy opposition demands.

"These include an amnesty law and a new government that can bring political unity, win the confidence of the Ukrainian people, and take Ukraine in the direction of Europe by strengthening democratic institutions and making the reforms necessary to achieve economic prosperity," the White House said in a statement.

The White House last week threatened economic sanctions against the Yanukovych government if it continued its violent crackdown against protesters.

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