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Updated: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 04:01:12 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Ukraine leader wants to sign EU deal after mass protests



Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, left, greets EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Top Western diplomats headed to Kiev Tuesday to try to defuse a stand-off between President Viktor Yanukovych's government and thousands of demonstrators, following a night in which police in riot gear dismantled protesters' encampments outside government buildings. Demonstrators have occupied the Ukrainian capital for weeks opposing Yanukovych's decision to freeze ties with the European Union and tilt to Russia instead. (© AP Photo/ Andrei Mosienko, Pool)

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, left, greets EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Top Western diplomats headed to Kiev Tuesday to try to defuse a stand-off between President Viktor Yanukovych's government and thousands of demonstrators, following a night in which police in riot gear dismantled protesters' encampments outside government buildings. Demonstrators have occupied the Ukrainian capital for weeks opposing Yanukovych's decision to freeze ties with the European Union and tilt to Russia instead. (AP Photo/ Andrei Mosienko, Pool) Andrei Mosienko/Pool/The Associated Press

Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych "intends to sign" the far-reaching trade and co-operation agreement with the European Union that he rejected only last month, said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

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Ashton said Thursday that after talks with Yanukovych in Kiev it was clear that the short-term economic and financial issues Ukraine faces can be alleviated by signing the association agreement, which will bring in fresh investment from EU nations.

Ashton said that "look, Yanukovych made it clear to me that he intends to sign the association agreement."

Signing would be an about-face for Yanukovych since his rejection to close the deal last month made it clear he sought closer links with Russia instead. Mass protests in Kiev since have been calling for closer links with the EU.

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