(QHA) -

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych told her he "intends to sign" a key trade and cooperation agreement with the EU, RFE/RL informs.

Yanukovych's decision not to sign the deal last month sparked the ongoing government standoff with thousands of pro-EU protesters in Kyiv.

According to Ashton, the economic concerns mentioned by Yanukovych during their meetings could be alleviated by signing the Association Agreement, which will bring in fresh investment.

"Yanukovych made it clear to me that he intends to sign the Association Agreement. What he talked about were the short-term economic issues that the country faces, and it is my view that those challenges, which are real, can be addressed by the support that not only comes from the European Union institutions but actually by showing that he has serious economic plan," Ashton said.

 "And signing the Association Agreement also will help bring in the kind of investment that he needs."


Ukrainian Deputy Premier Serhiy Arbuzov is expected on December 12 to meet European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele in Brussels to discuss the Association Agreement. 

QHA