US deputy Secretary of State to visit Ukraine

Washington, Feb 24: US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will visit Ukraine amid prevailing uncertainty in the wake of a series of dramatic events over the weekend in the country, it was announced Monday.

Burns will be in Kiev from Tuesday to Wednesday to discuss US support for the country’s efforts to “secure a stable, democratic, inclusive, prosperous future,” Xinhua quoted the US State Department as saying in a statement.

During his talks in Kiev, Burns will urge the new government to take “all steps necessary” for “free and fair” elections in May, call for the rapid formation of a national unity government, and encourage “immediate steps” to undertake the reforms necessary to restore Ukraine’s political and economic health, the state department said.

Events have come to a boil in Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders signed a deal Friday in a bid to quell violence which had flared up since Tuesday and left at least 82 dead.

The next day, the opposition took control of the parliament, and voted to release former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, dismiss Yanukovych from his office and hold early presidential elections May 25. Yanukovych subsequently fled.