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Sunday, 23 February 2014 | MYT 8:20 PM

EU says ready to do Ukraine trade deal once new government in place

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Sunday it was ready to conclude a trade deal with Ukraine once a new government was formed, and that it believed such a deal was in both parties' interests and would be signed.

Ukraine's crisis began last year when President Viktor Yanukovich turned away from a proposed European Union trade deal in favour of closer ties with Russia, which promised to lend Kiev $15 billion and reduce the price of gas.

"I believe that yes, they (the Ukrainians) are going to sign that deal," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told Sky News on Sunday in a television interview. "I don't know when. First we need a government for that, and it has to take a democratic decision and it has to be in a stable situation."

Also on Sunday, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said the EU was ready to offer substantial aid to Ukraine. Like De Gucht, he said having a stable government was a prerequisite. Neither proposal was linked to the other.

The trade deal had always been on the table for Ukraine, De Gucht said. But he stressed the pact didn't mean granting Ukraine full membership of the 28-nation EU.

"We can and I think we should do it (the trade deal). It doesn't mean they become a member of the EU. That's quite something else."

(Reporting By Andrew Osborn; Editing by Larry King)


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