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Macedonian Leaders, After Talks, Pledge To Keep Protests Peaceful


Political leaders in Macedonia met on May 14 and pledged to avoid unrest ahead of antigovernment protests planned over the weekend.

The meeting between Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and three opposition leaders came at the urging of U.S. and European leaders and was aimed at staving off further violence.

Tensions are high after a police raid on an ethnic Albanian neighborhood in northern Macedonia last weekend left 22 people dead, including eight police and 14 ethnic Albanians, described by the government as "terrorists."

After several hours of talks, the politicians issued a joint statement pledging support for "democratic values, including the right to peaceful protest and to condemn violence."

They were due to resume talks on May 18 with U.S. and European observers present.

However, Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev, leader of protesters demanding the resignation of the government, said he would not back down from demands that Gruevski step down in another round of demonstrations scheduled for May 17.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters

*This article was corrected to clarify the circumstances surrounding the 22 deaths.
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