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Vice President Biden speaks during a meeting of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on February 18, 2014. / SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images

With deadly protests spreading in the Ukraine, Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday to express "grave concern" about the violence, according to the White House.

Biden, who has been regular contact with Ukrainian authorities since the start of the unrest in Kiev, told Yankovych that the U.S. condemns violence by any side. But the vice president also emphasized that "the government bears special responsibility to deescalate the situation," according to a White House statement.

"The Vice President further underscored the urgency of immediate dialogue with opposition leaders to address protesters' legitimate grievances and to put forward serious proposals for political reform," the White House statement. "The United States is committed to supporting efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the crisis that reflects the will and aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

Olga Rudenko reports for USA TODAY that the clashes began after parliament delayed a session on Tuesday in which they were scheduled to take up the issue of constitutional reform that would limit presidential powers. Thousands of people marched toward the parliament building to put pressure on lawmakers, shouting, "Shame!"

The violence followed a compromise reached over the weekend in which protesters agred to vacate a city hall they had occupied for more than two months in exchange for the release of jailed proteste



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Biden expresses 'grave concern' over Ukraine violence

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