UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Friday said that he was "encouraged" by an agreement between Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders on a process for the settlement of the crisis in the country, underlining the importance of a swift implementation of the accord in order to "de-escalate the situation in the country."
Earlier Friday, the secretary-general called President Yanukovych to "personally welcome this important step forward," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman. "The secretary- general stressed that it will be critical to ensure the swift implementation of the agreement in order to de-escalate the situation in the country and initiate a peaceful solution to the crisis."
"The secretary-general commends the spirit of compromise, as well as the collaborative international approach to finding a resolution to the crisis," the statement said.
Yanukovich and three opposition leaders have signed an agreement intended to end a crisis that sparked bloody clashes between protesters and police on the streets of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, reports said Friday.
The deal sets out plans to hold early presidential elections, form a national unity government and revert to the 2004 constitution, removing some of the president's powers, said the reports.
"The secretary-general also welcomes the signing into law of the resolution passed by (the Ukrainian) Parliament yesterday, which has resulted in the start of a pullback by police from the centre of Kiev," the statement said. "He reiterates his appeal for no violence and for dialogue to remain the primary channel for addressing the numerous grievances that have surfaced."
"The secretary-general hopes that these developments and subsequent constructive efforts of key actors and parties will lead to a definitive end to the crisis in Ukraine and open the way for the country to embark on a genuine process of reform," the statement said.
The president made concessions to the opposition in a bid to avoid further bloodshed and casualties among the demonstrators and police officers.
Protests in Ukraine began last November when Yanukovych shelved a trade and economic agreement with the European Union (EU) and turned to Russia for financial aid instead.
Anti-government rallies turned violent Tuesday when the protesters attacked police with Molotov cocktails and set fire outside the parliament, reports said. The police responded with stun grenades and water cannons. The clashes left at least 77 people dead and hundreds of others injured.
The escalating violence in Kiev has sparked concern among senior UN officials, with the secretary-general, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and Irina Bokova, the director-general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), urging all sides to exercise restraint and find a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis.