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Kerry to reiterate U.S. open to sanctions on Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he departs Abu Dhabi International Airport February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he departs Abu Dhabi International Airport February 18, 2014. REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry is expected on Wednesday to again raise the possibility of U.S. sanctions on Ukraine, where at least 26 people have been killed in the worst day of violence since independence, a U.S. official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kerry was expected "to reiterate that the United States is open" to imposing sanctions on Ukraine, a threat President Barack Obama's administration first made more than two months ago.

U.S. officials have previously said they were reluctant to impose sanctions, preferring to seek a diplomatic solution to the political crisis that erupted last year when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich spurned a broad trade deal with the EU and accepted a $15 billion Russian bailout.

It was unclear whether Tuesday's violence in Kiev had changed sentiment sufficiently in Washington to prompt it to actually impose economic sanctions, which have been under discussion for months and were threatened in December.

At least 26 people, including 10 policemen, were killed in violence that erupted on Tuesday and continued overnight. Many were killed by gunshots and hundreds were wounded, dozens seriously, police and opposition representatives said.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; writing by John Irish; editing by Mark John and Alistair Lyon)

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