The United States condemned "unacceptable" violence on the bloodiest day since Kiev's Western-backed government took power, urging both Ukraine and Russia to restore order. At least 31 people died in a fire in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa, with local media reporting that pro-Russian militants were believed to have been in the burning building at the time. "Today, the international community must stand together in support of the Ukrainian people as they cope with this tragedy," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement mourning the "heartbreaking" loss of life. Amid the most serious rupture in West-Moscow relations since the Cold War, the United States earlier threatened to hit Russia with new sanctions within three weeks over what Washington called its continued "destabilization" of Ukraine.
By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel could not hide differences on Friday over U.S. surveillance practices despite Obama's offer of "cyber dialogue" with Berlin and a pledge to bridge gaps that have tarnished their relationship. The two leaders have been at odds over the U.S. National Security Agency's spying habits since revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year showed the United States had listened in on many of its allies, including Merkel. Obama has since banned the practice of eavesdropping on allied political leaders, but the measure has not placated Germany. "We have a few difficulties yet to overcome," Merkel said in a joint news conference with Obama at the White House, referring to the conflict and pointedly declining to say, when asked, that trust between the two nations had been restored.