Three EU ministers to visit Ukraine Thursday: Hungary

BUDAPEST (AFP) - The foreign ministers of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic will visit Kiev on Thursday where they hope to meet with the new government, Budapest said Wednesday.

Kiev's new leaders are due to unveil a unity cabinet on Wednesday afternoon following the dramatic ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych after months of protests sparked by his rejection of an association agreement with the EU.

The three foreign ministers "will travel tomorrow late afternoon to Kiev, and hopefully when the new government in Ukraine is formed then they will meet the new government," Hungarian foreign ministry spokesman Gabor Kaleta told AFP.

"If not then they will meet the Rada (parliament)," he added.

The ministers include Hungary's Janos Martonyi, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia and Lubomir Zaoralek of the Czech Republic.

Details of the trip were still being finalised, but after Kiev, the three were expected to fly to the eastern city of Donetsk, "most probably to meet representatives of the Russian community," Kaleta said.

Martonyi and Zaoralek were also planning to visit Transcarpathia, a region with a strong ethnic Hungarian minority.

On Tuesday, Hungary's foreign ministry raised concerns about alleged violence against the minority by Ukrainian far-right group Pravy Sektor.

World powers have been seeking to ease tensions over Ukraine as the country's interim authorities grapple with the threat of economic collapse and separatism after Yanukovych fled Kiev following a week of carnage in which nearly 100 people died.

Senior EU and US diplomats have visited the ex-Soviet country in recent days and the European Union has said it stands ready to give conditional financial assistance to Ukraine.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius earlier told AFP he also planned to be in Kiev on Thursday to talk to the new leadership about the EU association agreement and outside financial aid.

"The appointment of a new government is vital for Ukraine because it would open up the possibility of quickly agreeing on support from financial institutions," Linkevicius told AFP.

"We know the budgetary situation (there) is very dramatic. The EU and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) must provide help.

"The goal is very clear: to sign the EU association agreement in the nearest future, when Ukraine is ready," he concluded.

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