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EU leaders said Friday they are ready to sign a landmark association accord with Ukraine but it must first meet conditions, including the release of jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
The 28 European Union leaders meeting in Brussels said in a statement they looked forward to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius next month when the accord is supposed to be signed.
But this will only happen "provided there is determined action and tangible progress" in meeting EU conditions.
Chief amongst these is the release of Tymoshenko from jail, where she is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of power while in office.
In addition, Kiev must ensure there is no 'selective justice' of the sort exemplified in the Tymoshenko case, and judicial and electoral reforms to ensure democratic government.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said last week he was willing to let Tymoshenko go for treatment abroad but refused to say whether he would pardon her.
European Parliament special envoys, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, indicated earlier this week that may not go far enough.
Yanukovych is believed to be looking for ways to let Tymoshenko, who suffers from back pain, go abroad for treatment but also to prevent her from staging a political comeback and taking part in presidential polls in 2015.