Ukraine Emergency Talks As Protests Continue

Ukraine's Presidnt Viktor Yanukovych has said there is no alternative to restoring trade relations with Moscow.

Mr Yanukovych made the announcement on television after more than two weeks of street unrest over his U-turn on the issue.

The news comes as the EU's top diplomat, mediator Baroness Ashton prepares to meet Mr Yanukovych for talks aimed at solving the crisis, sparked by Ukraine's decision to reject a pact with the EU in favour of a trade alliance with Russia.

At least 10 protesters were hurt in clashes with baton-wielding police in the early hours of Tuesday as interior troops and riot police forced demonstrators and removed barricades from around the government headquarters in Kiev.

Mr Yanukovych also plans to meet with Ukraine's three former presidents in a search for a resolution to the crisis, which has seen pro-EU demonstrators pitted against security forces.

The president is also backing the idea of round-table talks with the opposition.

But the opposition has refused to negotiate until Mr Yanukovych dismisses the government, punishes riot police for crushing a smaller protest last month and releases arrested demonstrators.

"A round table does not fit very well in a square prison cell," said opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The party of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said that armed law enforcement officers had raided its headquarters, taking away documents and computer servers.

Baroness Ashton voiced concerns that any attempts to end the stand-off between the two sides could be derailed by the raid.

She urged authorities "to exercise utmost restraint".

It comes a day after US Vice President Joe Biden conveyed Washington's "deep concern" to Mr Yanukovych.

Ukraine's political battle has been aggravated by its rapidly deteriorating finances.

The economy has been in recession for more than a year, and the government is in desperate need of foreign funding to avoid a default.

As talks stalled with the International Monetary Fund, Mr Yanukovych has sought a bailout loan from Russia.