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Friday, 9 May 2014 | MYT 3:35 AM

EU's Van Rompuy to visit Ukraine for talks on crisis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Council President Herman Van Rompuy will travel to Ukraine next Monday to discuss how to stabilise the situation there before the May 25 presidential election, the EU said on Thursday.

Western countries are hoping the election will help stabilise the country. But Russia said on Thursday it would be senseless to go ahead with the vote unless the Ukrainian government ended a military operation against separatists in the east and began a nationwide dialogue on constitutional reform.

"I will travel to Kiev on Monday to continue our talks on how to stabilise the situation in Ukraine ahead of the presidential elections on May 25, how to put an end to violence in Ukraine and how to create an inclusive national dialogue," Van Rompuy said in a statement.

Van Rompuy, who represents the European Union's 28 national governments, said Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk had invited him in a phone call.

Yatseniuk and several members of his government are already scheduled to come to Brussels next Tuesday for talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The EU has said it is willing to provide $15 billion in loans and grants to Ukraine over several years to help get the shattered economy back on its feet.

Pro-Russian separatists have taken over parts of eastern Ukraine and plan to hold a referendum there on Sunday on breaking away from Kiev, following the example of Crimea which was annexed by Russia in March after a similar vote.

The upheaval in Ukraine broke out after former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich turned his back last year on an agreement on closer trade and political cooperation with the EU in favour of a $15 billion bailout from Russia. That sparked street protests that ended with him fleeing Ukraine.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


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