Kiev: Ukraine`s president said today a tentative deal had been clinched to end a three-month-old standoff with opposition protesters after a day of raging violence left dozens of people dead and turned the heart of Kiev into a war zone.
After marathon talks with President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders, the European Union confirmed that a "temporary" agreement was due to be signed today in what would be a major step forward in ending the worst crisis since Ukraine`s independence.
Yanukovych announced he was calling an early presidential election, without giving a date, as well as starting a process to reform the constitution and form a unity government.
The moves go some way towards meeting key opposition demands but it was not known yet if they would back the deal and EU ministers involved in the talks urged caution.
In the deadliest day since the crisis erupted in November, at least 60 people were killed in fierce clashes in Kiev`s Independence Square yesterday, with police opening fire on protesters carrying makeshift shields while opposition medics said government snipers picked off demonstrators from rooftops.
Three EU foreign ministers and a Russian envoy flew in for emergency talks on Thursday as the international community voiced increasing alarm about the crisis in the former Soviet state.
"The parties agreed on the initialling of an agreement to resolve the crisis," the presidency said in a statement following a day and night of negotiations between Yanukovych and envoys from Poland, Germany, Russia and France.
It had said the deal was to be signed at 1000 GMT but the time passed without any formal announcement.
Poland`s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Twitter that the talks were at a "delicate moment" adding: "All sides need to remember that compromise means getting less than 100 per cent."
Under the expected terms of the pact, the country would revert back to the 2004 constitution, which would give more power to parliament and government, and less to the president.
There has been no comment yet from any of the top three opposition leaders. But a senior EU diplomat involved in the negotiations said a "temporary agreement" was expected Friday.