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France invites Ukrainian opposition's Klitschko to Paris

Source: Reuters - Tue, 3 Dec 2013 08:47 AM
Author: Reuters
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PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) - France invited a senior figure in Ukraine's opposition, Vitaly Klitschko, to Paris on Tuesday to discuss a stand-off with the country's government that has brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

Ukraine has plunged into crisis since President Viktor Yanukovich turned down a free-trade deal with the European Union under pressure from Russia, with pro-Europe demonstrators blockading the government's main building in Kiev.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RFI radio he had sent a message to Klitschko, telling him he was prepared to meet him in Paris. He said he and President Francois Hollande had met Yanukovich at an EU summit last week in Vilnius.

"It's not up to us to interfere in domestic issues, but the other day we spoke with Yanukovich and it seems normal to me to meet Mr. Klitschko as well, since Mrs. Tymoshenko is in prison," Fabius said, referring to jailed Ukrainian opposition figure and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Yanukovich is set to head to China on Tuesday while opposition deputies in Ukraine's parliament have called for a vote of no confidence in the cabinet.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the government could not perform basic functions and accused his opponents of planning to seize parliament, warning that the stand-off had all the signs of a coup d'etat.

"It's not a coup d'etat, I haven't seen a military intervention," Fabius said. "The conditions for a coup d'etat are not there." (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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