Ukraine's Tymoshenko to meet Merkel 'very soon': Party

AFP , Sunday 23 Feb 2014

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, center, addresses the crowd in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Ukraine's Yulia Tymoshenko will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel "very soon", her party said Sunday after the two spoke over the phone, as the freed opposition leader remained mum on her plans for upcoming elections.

The former prime minister, who had been imprisoned for more than two years, was released on Saturday in the latest, dramatic twist to anti-government unrest that has swept over Ukraine for more than three months and left scores dead.

"They agreed to a meeting that could take place very soon", her Batkivshchyna (FAtherland) party said in a statement.

"Merkel... highlighted that her return to politics would be an important factor for stabilising the situation in Ukraine, maintaining the unity of the country and bringing it back on the path of European reforms," it added.

Merkel said that "politically she should commit to the holding-together of the country", and approach the people in the country's pro-Russian east, a German government source said.

The chancellor also called on Tymoshenko to try to hold together the opposition, government sources said.

And Merkel offered the opposition leader -- who suffers from chronic back problems -- medical treatment in Germany.

Tymoshenko, 53, was freed Saturday following a decision by parliament, which has come under opposition control after a week of deadly violence in central Kiev pitting protesters against security forces of President Viktor Yanukovych, who has since been ousted.

On Sunday, she held meetings with ambassadors from Western countries and was also due to travel to her home city of Dnipropetrovsk with her mother, her spokeswoman Natalia Lysova told AFP.

Asked about Tymoshenko's plans for early presidential elections, set by parliament on May 25, Lysova said that no decision had yet been made.

"This is not the right time for this," Lysova said by telephone.

Tymoshenko is widely seen as one of the most skilled politicians in Ukraine despite being dogged by suspicions of personal enrichment and opportunism, and her release has prompted speculation that she could stand for elections in May.

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