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Top EU official returns to Ukraine in bid to defuse crisis

A senior EU official was returning to Ukraine on Monday in a fresh bid by Brussels to help defuse the worsening crisis there.

BRUSSELS: A senior EU official was returning to Ukraine on Monday in a fresh bid by Brussels to help defuse the worsening crisis there.

"To underline our continuing engagement with Ukraine, Commissioner (Stefan) Fuele travels to Kiev today again to continue the efforts to help to find a way out of the crisis," said a European Commission spokesman.

Fuele is the European Union's enlargement commissioner and was in Ukraine on Friday and Saturday for talks with President Viktor Yanukovych and members of the opposition.

After meeting the embattled Ukrainian leader, Fuele had urged the government to take concrete steps to halt "a spiral of violence and intimidation" and restore peace in the country.

Fuele had said he had "conveyed deep concerns of the EU about the latest developments and underlined the need to end the cycle of violence".

He also stressed the need "to fight against impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations and to continue an inclusive national dialogue to find a way out of the crisis that threatens to further destabilise the country".

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is also scheduled to visit Ukraine this week.

Ukraine plunged into its two-month political crisis after Yanukovych refused suddenly refused in November to sign a landmark political and trade deal with the EU that was years in the making.

He turned instead to the country's former master Russia, infuriating pro-EU Ukrainians.

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