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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ukraine's newly elected president expresses apprehension about EU deal

Petro Poroshenko, the confectionery tycoon who won Ukraine's presidential election on Sunday, is not yet ready to commit to a major political and economic deal with the European Union, he said recently.

Poroshenko told senior EU officials on Monday that he wants some more time before committing, but they said they still believe he will finalize a deal in the next couple of months, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In his victory announcement, the 48-year-old businessman vowed to establish closer ties with the EU and restore stability in restive eastern parts of the country.

On Monday, Poroshenko reportedly spoke to the EU's top two officials, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, who heads the European Council, which represents member states, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A spokeswoman for Poroshenko said the incoming head of state will discuss his timing for signing the bilateral deal after he meets with some European leaders in Poland late next week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin opposes the deal, which would cement Ukraine's ties with the EU and signal its move away from Moscow, and has threatened economic retaliation against any former Soviet country that signs such an agreement, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an agreement with the EU set off massive demonstrations that eventually toppled him from power in February.