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Serious talks needed in Kiev, EU's Fule says

Feb. 5, 2014 at 12:36 PM

STRASBOURG, France, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Peaceful talks are the only thing that can break a vicious cycle of political violence in Ukraine, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said.

Fule addressed members of the European Parliament during their plenary session Wednesday in Strasbourg, France.

He said putting an end to what's become a violent situation in Ukraine was the first step in resolving the crisis.

"What is needed is a serious engagement by both sides to find a negotiated solution out of the current political crisis," he said. "It is the only way to avoid vicious cycles of mutual recriminations."

European leaders have made several trips to Kiev since protests erupted in the wake of a November decision from the Ukrainian government to balk on free trade and association agreements with the European Union.

Fule said Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy official for the EU, arrived in Kiev to meet President Viktor Yanukovych and members of the opposition.

Mykola Azarov resigned last month as prime minister amid pressure from pro-EU groups in Ukraine.

Fule said the EU is ready to support conditions for free and fair presidential elections next year.

"In case of a positive scenario, we will be ready to extend our assistance," he said.

The Ukrainian government said it was protecting its economic ties to Russia with its November decision.

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