Kiev
Kiev Photo by Reuters
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Anti-government protesters in Ukraine agreed on Thursday to a truce of several hours in clashes with police while new talks took place between opposition leaders and President Viktor Yanukovych, Interfax news agency said.

Meanwhile, clashes and flames have erupted around the city. Protesters, who have been bombarding police with petrol bombs and cobblestones in Kiev since Sunday, told opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko they would suspend further action until 8 P.M., the agency said.

The unrest swelled into peaceful mass rallies against the four-year rule of Yanukovych which turned violent on Sunday when hard-core radicals broke away from the main protest area in the capital Kiev and clashed violently with riot police.

Three people have been killed on the side of protesters - two of them from gunshot wounds - and more than 150 police have been injured in the worst street violence in post-war Kiev.

A new round of talks between Yanukovych and Klitschko, former Economy Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleh Tyahnibok were due to begin at 3 P.M., opposition sources said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed outrage on Thursday over the Ukraine government's crackdown on protesters but said it would be wrong for Europe to respond to the violence with sanctions at this stage.

"We expect the government in Ukraine to ensure democratic freedoms, notably the right to demonstrate, the protection of lives and the end of the use of force," Merkel said at a news conference.