BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday to accept EU help in his talks with the opposition and condemned the latest violence.
Merkel spoke by phone with Yanukovych as fierce clashes in Kiev claimed at least 27 lives, just as EU envoys were holding crisis talks with the embattled president.
"She sharply condemned the latest escalation," said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert in a statement.
"All sides must immediately refrain from violence and implement the agreed ceasefire. The prime responsibility lies with the government," he quoted Merkel as saying.
Merkel said that "only talks with fast, tangible results on the formation of a government and constitutional reform offer the opportunity for a sustainable resolution of the conflict".
The chancellor "stated the willingness of the EU, of Germany and other partners, to support talks between the government and opposition," said Seibert.
"She urgently advised the Ukrainian president to accept this offer, stressing that playing for time will further fuel the conflict and bear incalculable risks."
Merkel also reiterated that "due to the recent escalation of violence, the EU will today discuss sanctions," added the statement.
Yanukovych was holding crisis talks with the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland ahead of an EU emergency meeting in Brussels expected to impose sanctions against Ukrainian government officials for the unrest.