US signs $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine
LUXEMBOURG - Agence France-Presse
Foreign ministers arrive prior to a Foreign Affairs Council on April 14,2014 at the EU Headquarters at the Kirchberg Conference Centre in Luxembourg. AFP PhotoThe United States on Monday signed a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine, part of an aid package to support the country's economic recovery after weeks of political upheaval and the loss of Crimea to Russia.
"The Ukrainian people have demonstrated tremendous courage as they have charted an independent course for their country and demanded a government that truly reflects the will of the people," US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement.
"The United States has been at the forefront of building international support for Ukraine, and holding Russia accountable for its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and destabilizing action."
Lew announced the signing after meeting Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak in Washington.
The loan guarantee will reinforce the Ukrainian government's efforts to provide critical services as it implements reforms, while protecting the most vulnerable households from the impact of the necessary economic adjustment, Lew said.
Lew praised the work of Shlapak and his team in setting up a comprehensive economic reform program together with the International Monetary Fund.
"The United States very much wants to see Ukraine prosper, and we will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they move forward to realize their long-held aspirations."
EU approves one-billion-euro aid to Ukraine
The European Union on Monday formally approved a one-billion-euro assistance package to help Ukraine's interim authorities overcome the country's deep financial problems.
And in a further move to revive the Ukrainian economy, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg also signed off on a plan to lower customs duties on Ukrainian goods that could save the country almost 500 million euros a year.
The ministers also added four people to a list of 18 Ukrainians subject to an EU visa ban and asset freeze since March 5 for misappropriating Ukrainian state funds.
There were no immediate details on the four but EU diplomats said they were Ukrainians who, along with the other 18, were targeted by judicial investigations for fraud against the state.
The EU medium-term loan of almost one billion euros ($1.4 billion) is aimed at helping Ukraine cover its balance-of-payments needs and comes in addition to 610 million euros of aid that has been approved but not yet disbursed.
The cut in trade tariffs for Ukrainian imports until November 1 is a one-sided measure that will not affect duties on exports to Ukraine from the 28-nation bloc.
It is a first stage in a free-trade pact due to be signed by Brussels with Kiev later this year which was linked to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement that former president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign in November, triggering the protests that led to his ouster.