Iran expresses concern over Ukraine violence
Iran has expressed concern over the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine, calling on both sides to find a peaceful solution to end the tensions, PressTV reported.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham called the conflict a domestic issue, urging both sides to refrain from the use of force.
"The continuation of clashes and the spread of violence into various regions of the country (Ukraine) will complicate and worsen the situation, and make achieving a principled and permanent solution difficult," Afkham stated.
It is "also in conflict with the interests of the Ukrainian people and the country's national interests," she added.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is willing to see the establishment of peace in the whole region, especially in Ukraine, Afkham said.
The crisis in Ukraine began in November last year, when the country's then President Viktor Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. The action resulted in anti-government protests in the country.
On February 23, the Ukrainian parliament ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature's newly-elected speaker, as interim president.
Tensions in Ukraine heightened after the Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared independence from Kiev and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which about 97 percent of the participants voted for reunion with Russia.
The move led to pro-Russian protests in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. Kiev accuses Moscow of supporting the protesters, a claim which Moscow denies.
On April 17, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU agreed over steps to "de-escalate" the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where anti-Kiev protesters have seized buildings in several towns and cities.
But Ukrainian authorities ordered a military offensive against the protesters.