Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko met with parliamentary faction leaders Wednesday in a bid to find a way out of the political crisis that has gripped this country since the breakup of the Orange Revolution team.
Yushchenko said he wants to "bury the hatchet" with ousted Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, but stopped far short of accepting his former ally's proposal to return to the government.
"All political forces, including Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko, should take part in forming the government," Yushchenko said a day after parliament refused to endorse the candidacy of acting Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov for the nation's No. 2 job.
Tymoshenko participated in the meeting, together with losing presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, whose party joined forces with Tymoshenko's faction to block Yekhanurov's candidacy.
Ukraine has sunk into a political quagmire since the Orange Revolution team that brought Yushchenko to power disintegrated two weeks ago amid mutual allegations of corruption and infighting. Yushchenko sacked the government on Sept. 8, a move that has left him politically vulnerable in a parliament still dominated by communists and his former foes. The opposition has grown even larger, with lawmakers expressing their loyalty to Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko told journalists Wednesday that she was ready to offer Yushchenko an alliance aimed at creating a new coalition government and easing Ukraine's political crisis.
"I am ready to sit down with him (Yushchenko) today ... and suggest we unite forces and create a new government," Tymoshenko said.
Asked if she was proposing that Yushchenko name her prime minister again, she said: "We need to restore the status quo."
"In my heart, there are no bad emotions about the president," she said.
Asked about the offer, Yushchenko said only that he had called Tymoshenko on Monday and proposed she "bury the hatchet and not violate the ideas of Independence Square because we stood there together and at that time we elected the president of Ukraine and not the prime minister."
Yushchenko added: "I am excluding no one." But he did not directly respond to Tymoshenko's wish to be named prime minister again.
Earlier, Yushchenko's aides said he would likely forward Yekhanurov's name for a second vote. Yushchenko repeated that he thought Yekhanurov's candidacy would help "consolidate the majority of political forces." He said Wednesday, however, that he would make a final decision after the closed door talks, which were expected to drag on for hours.
A new vote could be held as early as Thursday.