EU`s Ashton advances Ukraine trip to Tuesday
Brussels: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to fly to Ukraine on Tuesday, 48 hours earlier than previously scheduled, to help defuse the country`s crisis, she announced Monday.
Ashton originally had been scheduled to visit Kiev at the end of the week as the European Union attempts to help mediate an end to the turmoil, but said in a statement: "I will fly to Kiev tomorrow (Tuesday) evening."
Her office told AFP she would leave after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brussels on Tuesday and would spend Wednesday in Kiev before leaving for the Latvian capital Riga on Thursday.
In the Ukrainian capital, Ashton will meet embattled President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the opposition, said her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.
Saying she was "deeply concerned" by the situation, Ashton called in the statement for "both sides to reduce the tension" and for the violence to stop.
She expressed alarm over reports the Ukrainian government could be preparing to declare a state of emergency and urged the parliament, which is dominated by the president`s party, to revoke a package of controversial laws regarding protests when it meets on Tuesday in Kiev.
"The only solution to the crisis is a political one," she said.
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