Kerry: Offers by Ukraine's president not enough

AP News
Posted: Jan 31, 2014 8:31 AM

BERLIN (AP) — U.S. Secretary John Kerry said Friday that overtures by Ukraine's embattled president to the country's political opposition have not been enough to resolve the crisis there.

Kerry made the comments during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a stopover in Berlin en route to a regional security conference in Munich.

The visit to the German capital appeared aimed at improving relations with Germany that were severely strained by allegations of U.S. spying, including tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

Kerry spoke a day after President Viktor Yanukovych announced he was taking an indefinite sick leave, prompting a guessing game among Ukrainians whether he was really ill or deliberately leaving the spotlight — either ahead of a crackdown or to step aside.

"The offers of President Yanukovych have not yet reached an adequate level of reform and an adequate level of sharing of the future so that the opposition can, in fact, feel that it can legitimately come to the table," Kerry said.

If the government presents a reform agenda offering "genuine participation" then the opposition should seize the opportunity "because further violence that goes out of control is not in anybody's interest," he added.

Kerry said he would seek to persuade Moscow that an agreement in Ukraine is in its interest.

During the news conference at Berlin's Tegel airport, Steinmeier stressed Germany's longtime close relations with the U.S., adding this "does not exclude that we can sometimes have a difference of opinion in one or the other matter."

"And that was clearly in the case with the last few weeks and months when we rowed about the spying operations" of the U.S. National Security Agency.

"I'm sure that we will succeed in restoring the trust that was lost," he said.

Kerry said Washington was keen to repair the damage from the NSA revelations but would not commit to a "no spy" agreement which the Germans have demanded.