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Ukraine wants EU pact 'in near future'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told an EU summit on Friday that Kiev wanted to sign a historic pact with the bloc "in the near future" but needed economic and financial aid.

"I confirm Ukraine's intention to sign the Association Agreement in the near future," Yanukovych told EU chiefs at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius.

"The forced pause in the agreement's signature process does not mean a halt in euro-integration reforms that Ukraine so urgently needs," he said in comments released by his office.

"We are intent on pressing ahead with this work."

"For us, the European choice remains a strategic direction of Ukraine's further... development."

But Yanukovych stressed that Kiev needed economic and financial support from Brussels before it could sign a political and free trade deal with the 28-nation bloc.

"We need our European colleagues to take decisive steps toward Ukraine when it comes to the development and realisation of a programme of financial and economic aid," he said.

Such measures would include the resumption of aid from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as EU help in modernising Ukraine's Soviet-era natural gas pipeline infrastructure, he said.

The European Union should also lift trade restrictions on certain Ukrainian export items, the Ukrainian president added without elaborating.

Ukraine and the bloc failed to sign a deal that would have set the post-Soviet country on a path to European integration after Kiev said the deal would hurt the country's struggling economy.

The plan to sign the agreement was scrapped days before the summit, after former master Russia threatened Ukraine with economic retaliation.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131129/ukraine-wants-eu-pact-near-future