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Catherine Ashton arrives in Kiev amid political crisis

The Ukrainian government must refrain from the use of force against protesters, who rally for a future in the 28-member European Union (EU), EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton stressed on Wednesday.

Ukrainians angry with their government's decision to delay a landmark deal with the EU last month, so as to secure better ties with Russia, have joined weeks-long protests centered in Independence Square, the focal point for the like-minded Orange Revolution in 2004.

On Tuesday night, police intervened in the square to remove barricades and tents around the camp, but withdrew in the morning.

"Authorities should not resort to forceful engagement with the public in the still of the night," said Ashton, who met Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and protesters alike.

“It is better to use political powers and dialogue with society rather than force.”

Ashton said she was impressed with the determination and resilience of protesters in their pursuit for better links with the EU.

Last month, the European Union offered Ukraine a "Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement", or DCFTA. It was to serve as a springboard for Ukraine to get closer to the 28-member bloc, with the possibility of full membership in the future.

After months of negotiations, Ukraine took a U-turn and refused to sign the deal, citing its desire to have better relations with Russia, with which it shares historical and economic ties.

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