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President Viktor Yushchenko (right) with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Kyiv on February 6 (epa)
February 6, 2007 -- European Union officials are in Kyiv today for talks on Ukraine's aspirations to join the bloc.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier -- whose country holds the EU's rotating Presidency -- and Portuguese European Affairs Minister Manuel Lobo Antunes met President Viktor Yushchenko, who has made EU membership a priority for Ukraine.
The EU has so far suggested only an agreement with Ukraine to cement closer economic and political ties -- not full membership.
Yushchenko, meeting with the EU officials today, urged intensifying relations.
"There is an emerging need to begin looking at our relations from the point of view of increasing their intensity and establishing foundations for political association and economic integration," he said. "In many areas such plans have been outlined, and in many other areas they are already being implemented."
Steinmeier, who also met with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, said the EU considered Ukraine a "unique and important country" in its Neighborhood Policy, which calls for closer ties with EU neighbors to the east and south.
Steinmeier said talks between experts on a new, enhanced agreement could start by March. He also said strengthening the partnership with Ukraine in energy was a priority for the EU.
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