After 48 hours of the worst bloodshed in recent memory in the troubled Ukraine, there is a small sign that the physical fighting will end between the government and the opposition, and that negotiations will resume.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Wednesday he had agreed to a "truce" with opposition leaders, after street violence in which at least 26 people were killed, and a start to negotiations to end further bloodshed, Reuters reported.

A statement on the presidential website said that during talks with the three main opposition leaders, Yanukovich had agreed firstly to a truce and secondly to "the start to negotiations with the aim of ending bloodshed, and stabilizing the situation in the state in the interests of social peace."

The statement, issued on the eve of a visit by the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France, appeared to indicate that riot police who on Tuesday night advanced on Kiev's Independence Square would not take further immediate steps to break up the encampment of protesters, Reuters reported.

Former Economy Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, one of the opposition leaders, said in a statement on the website of his Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party: "The storming of the Maidan (Independence Square) which the authorities had planned today will not take place.

"A truce has been declared. The main thing is to protect human life," he said.