Ukraine's interim leader meets with EU official

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By AP

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Updated: Mon, 24 Feb 2014 05:14:34 EST

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's interim leader has moved quickly to open up a dialogue with the West -- meeting today with the European Union's foreign policy chief.

The meeting came on the same day that the interim government drew up an arrest warrant for President Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH'-vich) in the killing of anti-government protesters last week. His effort to develop closer ties with Russia rather than with the European Union helped bring about the months of protests that culminated in last week's violent clashes.

Yanukovych fled the capital over the weekend, reportedly for a pro-Russian area of eastern Ukraine. Officials say he released his official security detail, and drove off to an unknown location. Ukraine's parliament speaker has been acting as the government's interim leader.

Russia's premier today questioned the legitimacy of the new leadership in Kiev. But he wouldn't say what Moscow might do to protect its interests in Ukraine. In Washington, the White House says wherever Yanukovych is, he's not currently leading his country. A White House spokesman says the U.S. is ready to help Ukraine regain economic stability.

In Kiev, thousands are continuing to flock to the area where last week's clashes took place, lighting candles and laying flowers where dozens were shot dead. One activist says Yanukovych should be arrested and brought to Kiev's main square for trial.

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215-a-11-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"country at present"-White House press secretary Jay Carney says it doesn't look like President Viktor Yanukovych is running Ukraine any more. ((Yanukovych is pronounced yah-noo-KOH'-vich)) (24 Feb 2014)

<<CUT *215 (02/24/14)££ 00:11 "country at present"

157-a-16-(Herman Van Rompuy (HEHR'-mahn vahn RAHM'-poy), president, European Council, at news conference)-"these difficult times"-European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says the European Union remains fully engaged in Ukraine's transformation. COURTESY: EBS, Europe by Satellite ((mandatory on-air credit)) (24 Feb 2014)

<<CUT *157 (02/24/14)££ 00:16 "these difficult times"

APPHOTO XAZ131: Ukrainian opposition leader Oleg Tjagnibok, left, and Ukrainian lawmaker and chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar (Punch), former WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, second left, during their talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, foreground right, during their talks in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. The head of OSCE, the European security organization is proposing the establishment of an international contact group to support Ukraine in its difficult transition period.(AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko, Pool) (24 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XAZ131 (02/24/14)££

APPHOTO XEL108: People lay flowers and lit candles at one of the barricades heading to Independence Square,Kiev, the epicenter of the country's recent unrest, on a mourning day Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (24 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XEL108 (02/24/14)££

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