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Merkel Says EU Agreement With Ukraine Not Aimed Against Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said a European Union free trade agreement with Ukraine is not directed against Russia.

Merkel also told a German-Ukrainian economic conference in Berlin on October 23 that Germany wanted good economic ties with both Ukraine and Russia.

"In contrast, we want Ukraine to have good economic relations with the European Union, with Germany but at the same time also with Russia," she said.

The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was signed last year. Backers regard the deal as crucial for anchoring Ukraine to the West, while Moscow views it as a challenge to Russian interests in its so-called near abroad.

Merkel also urged Ukraine to continue with its economic reforms and tackle corruption and roll back the influence of oligarchs. She said German businesses are ready to invest there if the right conditions are in place.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the gathering that Ukraine has started to see some positive signs in its economy in recent months but added that the country needed Germany's help to implement its reforms.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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