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Published: Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 4:45:02 PM
Updated: Thursday July 31, 2014 MYT 4:46:10 PM

Ukraine president urges assembly to amend budget to fund army

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appealed to parliament on Thursday to back legislation needed to fund an army offensive against separatists in the east and shore up the energy sector.

Prime Minster Arseny Yatseniuk tendered his resignation last week over the assembly's refusal to back amendments to the 2014 budget in an initial vote but it is possible he will stay on if deputies support the changes now.

"The laws the government is insisting on are unpopular and difficult but very necessary," Poroshenko was quoted as saying by his press service in an appeal to deputies.

"The parliament's decisions today are needed not only to finance the army, although that is question number one. The parliament's decisions are needed to enable the economy, the state as a whole, to function and for people to feel confident and protected."

Yatseniuk offered to quit last week after parliament blocked moves that would release extra money for the army as it battles pro-Russian rebels and to allow consortiums with European or U.S. companies to operate the ageing gas distribution system.

But he later urged lawmakers to hold another vote on passing the budget amendments, saying the release of further funds under a $17-billion International Monetary Fund bailout depended on them being passed.

Parliament has not voted on his resignation but a vote of confidence was included on Thursday's parliamentary agenda.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets, Writing by Timothy Heritage)

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