UPDATE 1-EU says ready to do Ukraine trade deal once new government in place

Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:04am EST

LONDON Feb 23 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Sunday it was ready to conclude a trade deal with Ukraine and offer aid once a new government was formed, and that it believed a deal was in both parties' interests and would be signed.

Ukraine's crisis began last year when President Viktor Yanukovich turned away from a proposed European Union trade deal in favour of closer ties with Russia, which promised to lend Kiev $15 billion and reduce the price of gas.

"I believe that yes, they (the Ukrainians) are going to sign that deal," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told Sky News on Sunday in a television interview. "I don't know when. First we need a government for that, and it has to take a democratic decision and it has to be in a stable situation."

EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele also made clear the EU was standing by to offer aid once the government was stable.

"When it will be clear what commitments it will be able to accept, then we will be talking about weeks before it will be clear what framework such economic and financial aid can have," Fuele said on a Czech Television talk show.

The trade deal could be concluded later, he said.

De Gucht stressed the trade deal was a separate issue from membership in the 28-nation EU, however.

"We can and I think we should do it (the trade deal). It doesn't mean they become a member of the EU. That's quite something else."

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