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Dutch Leader Not Optimistic About Free-Trade Deal With Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left) and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have been negotiating over the EU's free-trade agreement with Ukraine.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he is not optimistic about reaching a deal that would pave the way for a trade agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, which was rejected by Dutch voters in a referendum in April.

All of the EU's other members have approved the free-trade agreement, but the fate of the deal has been complicated by the Dutch vote.

EU leaders asked Rutte to come up with a political compromise at their summit on October 20-21 in Brussels, with the goal of preserving the trade deal while assuaging voter fears it could lead to deeper military and financial ties with Ukraine in the future.

But Rutte said he told EU leaders on October 20 that he was not optimistic about finding a compromise that would satisfy all parties, though he said he will keep trying in negotiations with the Dutch parliament, Ukraine, and the EU.

While the Dutch vote against the trade deal was nonbinding, Rutte said he feels he must honor it.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, meanwhile, said as he visited Holland on October 20 that he was optimistic the trade deal eventually will be ratified by all EU members.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters