http://gdb.rferl.org/F577C092-BCCF-49D5-A633-9792B3C483E8_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/F577C092-BCCF-49D5-A633-9792B3C483E8_mw800_mh600.jpg
Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych (file photo) (epa)
BRUSSELS, September 13, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission today said it is preparing to negotiate a new partnership treaty with Ukraine, starting early next year.
The 25 EU member states are expected to give their approval for the talks by the end of the year.
Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin told RFE/RL today the new agreement will not contain any promise of EU membership.
"Our proposal is for an agreement that would have along-term perspective and that would not prejudge, one way or the other, the accession issue," she said.
Udwin said the new treaty could lead to free trade between the two sides -- provided Ukraine first joins the World Trade Organization.
Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych will meet top EU officials tomorrow on his first visit to Brussels since assuming office.