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EU Foreign Policy Chief Vows Support for Ukraine

The European Union's foreign policy chief is promising strong international support for Ukraine as it works to form a new government following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Catherine Ashton spoke at a news conference Tuesday while visiting the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. She said Western financial institutions are working on ways to help Ukraine's economy recover from three months of political protests.



"We are here to say very simply: we want to support and help this country to stay strong, to go forward in the way it chooses, and to offer our support in achieving that."



Ashton also urged Russia to let Ukraine find its own way out of its political crisis.



"We know and understand the strong trade links that have existed with Russia, the strong links that need to exist with Russia in the future and that message needs to be widely understood. We also think it is very important to send a strong message about the territorial integrity, and the unity, and the independence of Ukraine.''



Russia's Foreign Ministry said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin met Tuesday with Ukraine's Ambassador to Russia, Volodymr Yelchenko, in Moscow and raised questions "connected to the safety of Russian citizens and diplomatic representatives on the territory of Ukraine."

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's parliament postponed until Thursday plans to elect a new national unity government. Parliament speaker and acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, made the announcement on Tuesday, when the legislature was due to unveil its new leaders.

Also Tuesday, the parliament voted to send fugitive ousted president Yanukovych to the International Criminal Court to be tried for crimes committed during the anti-government demonstrations, including the murder of scores of protesters.

Acting interior minister Arsen Avakhov said Mr. Yanukovych was last seen in the pro-Russian Crimea region of Ukraine, but that the ousted leader's exact whereabouts are not clear.

Meanwhile, a hospital spokesman was quoted as saying Mr. Yanukovych's former chief of staff, Andriy Klyuyev, was shot in the leg by unknown gunmen and hospitalized. Klyuyev was reportedly on the run with the ousted president.



U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is due in Ukraine Tuesday. He is expected to meet with acting president Turchynov, as well members of parliament.

The State Department said Burns "will urge the new government to take all steps necessary for free and fair presidential elections in May."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the United States is ready to provide financial support to Ukraine, to complement aid from the International Monetary Fund and help the country invest more in health and education.

There is split support in Ukraine between those who want the country to favor relations with Europe and those who want closer ties with Russia. Ousted president Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the EU in November, setting off protests that led to him being kicked out of office.

Mr. Yanukovych fled Kyiv on Saturday for his support base in eastern Ukraine.

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