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Published: Thursday March 27, 2014 MYT 7:10:07 PM
Updated: Thursday March 27, 2014 MYT 7:11:05 PM

China says to play 'constructive role' on aid for Ukraine

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's foreign ministry said on Thursday that the government would play a "constructive role" on international financial aid for Ukraine, though again stopped short of saying whether Beijing would directly participate in such efforts.

The International Monetary Fund has agreed a $14-18 billion two-year bailout for Ukraine, a deal to help it recover from months of turmoil that will also unlock further credits making a total of $27 billion.

"China has made three suggestions, one of which is that (we) hope international financial organisations ought to get down to looking into helping Ukraine's economic and financial stability," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

"On this issue, China will play a constructive role," Hong added, speaking at a daily news briefing. He did not elaborate.

Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed Ukraine with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday in the Netherlands.

China has adopted a cautious, low-key response to the crisis, not wanting either to alienate key ally Russia or comment directly on the referendum in which Crimea voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, lest it set a precedent for its own restive regions, like Tibet.

But China has also said it would like to continue to develop "friendly cooperation" with Ukraine and that it respects Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, since ousted after three months of sometimes violent protests, visited China in December in the hope of winning much-needed financial aid, but China did not say it would provide any loans.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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