EU leaders keep door open for Ukraine to sign deal

By Raf Casert, Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 20, 2013 at 3:35 a.m.



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BRUSSELS (AP) - European Union leaders are making renewed calls to Ukraine to sign a cooperation deal despite snubs from President Viktor Yanukovyck who wants closer ties with Moscow instead.

Days after Russia announced a $15 billion bailout package for Ukraine and pledges to discount gas exports, EU leaders said Friday that Ukraine should still align itself with the 28-nation bloc for the economic advantages of a market of 500 million consumers and aid possibly in excess of $26 billion over a seven-year span.

President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, which holds the EU presidency said that "Europe is open for Ukrainian people, but not necessarily for this government. That's the message."

The diplomatic battle for Ukraine has been cast in geopolitical terms as a standoff between Russia and the West.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Raf Casert

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