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U.S. backs Kiev's EU ambitions

Aug. 22, 2013 at 2:43 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said ahead of Ukraine's Independence Day the U.S. government stands by Kiev's European ambitions.

Ukraine celebrates the anniversary of independence from the former Soviet Union Saturday. Twenty-two years later, Kiev is keen on building a better relationship with the European Union.

Kerry issued a statement ahead of Independence Day, saying the U.S. government "strongly" supports Ukraine's ambitions to move closer to the European Union.

"We remain committed to helping our Ukrainian partners as you work to become a prosperous European democracy with a free and open economy," he said in a statement Thursday.

October parliamentary elections in Ukraine were viewed by EU observers as a step backward for the former Soviet republic.

EU representatives this year said the bloc was ready to sign an association agreement with Ukraine provided the government addresses a series of political concerns.

European leaders said they suspect charges against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the country's Orange Revolution in 2005, and her supporters are politically motivated. She was sentenced to a seven-year prison term in 2011 on charges she abused her power in a 2009 energy deal with Russia.

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