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EU envoys to continue efforts to reach Ukraine deal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

EU special envoys trying to broker a landmark association accord with Ukraine will continue their efforts despite Kiev's parliament blocking Wednesday a bill on releasing ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, an official said.

A senior European Parliament official said all parties wanted former head of house, Pat Cox and former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski to continue their work right up until the November 28-29 Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

The centrepiece of the summit is meant to be the signing of the accord with Ukraine which would mark a decisive turn to the West for the ex-Soviet state and pave the way for its eventual EU membership.

Russia bitterly opposes the planned accord and has warned Kiev of the adverse consequences which could follow if it signs.

A key condition is the release of opposition leader Tymoshenko but an extraordinary session of parliament in Kiev closed Wednesday without a vote on a bill which would allow her to leave prison for medical treatment abroad, leaving the talks up in the air.

The European Parliament official said all involved felt there "was a need to make a last effort," with the situation in Ukraine evolving all the time.

The Ukraine parliament convenes again on November 19, one day after EU foreign ministers meet with the Vilnius summit high on their agenda.

Kwasniewski said earlier in Kiev that there was still a last chance next week.

"We understand that politically this is all very difficult. But we hope that enough goodwill is found to come to a consensus," he told reporters at Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

At the same time, November 19 was the "last moment to do everything that needs to be done," he added.

Signing of the EU Association Agreement has been held up by the 2011 sentencing of Tymoshenko to seven years in prison on contested abuse-of-power charges she says were ordered as political revenge by President Viktor Yanukovych.

Among other EU conditions for the deal are Ukraine's commitment to democratic reforms and civil society norms.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131113/eu-envoys-continue-efforts-reach-ukraine-deal