WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday urged Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to work toward an "immediate" de-escalation in standoff between protesters and security forces in the capital city of Kiev.
In his latest round of phone conversation with the Ukrainian leader, Biden stressed the ongoing dialogue with the opposition and the need for "genuine compromise" as the only solution to the crisis, the White House said in a readout of the talks.
Opposition leaders have given Yanukovych 24 hours until Thursday evening for him to call for early elections and revoke laws limiting protests, during which protesters have been urged to refrain from violence.
Kiev has been at the center of two months of protests sparked by the government's renege on a partnership agreement with the European Union, a path toward an eventual membership of the bloc, reportedly under pressure from Russia. At least two protesters died of gunshot wounds in the capital on Wednesday.
"While emphasizing that violence by any side is not acceptable, the vice president underscored that only the government of Ukraine can ensure a peaceful end to the crisis and further bloodshed would have consequences for Ukraine's relationship with the United States," the White House said.
Washington said it was considering additional steps, including sanctions, in response to the ongoing violence in Ukraine.