Ukrainian presidential contenders united on UK visit

26th March 2014, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian presidential contenders Petro Poroshenko and Vitali Klitschko pledged to work together for the future of their crisis-hit country on Wednesday, after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

Chocolate baron Poroshenko and Klitschko, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, met with Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague at Downing Street to seek Britain's support following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Klitschko has previously indicated he would run for the May 25 presidential election. Poroshenko has yet to formally declare his candidacy, though an opinion poll on Wednesday suggested he would be the favourite.

Asked by AFP to confirm that they would both be running for president, ahead of a Sunday deadline to declare, Poroshenko said: "It will be decided on Saturday when we have the party congress of both our parties. We will cooperate, for sure."

Klitschko added: "We have to fight not against each other, we have to fight for the future of our country."

The two politicians were in London to bolster support for Ukraine's new Western-backed government following Russia's takeover of Crimea.

Poroshenko said it was "very important" that the two men were showing a united front, three weeks after they both met with French President Francois Hollande in Paris.

"We want to demonstrate that all European people, all the people of the world are together with Ukraine, and Russia has international isolation because of the aggression in the Crimea," he said.

"We expect support from Great Britain," Klitschko added, citing London's role as a guarantor of Ukraine's sovereignty in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.

"We expect support in the economic part, and the political part, and of course sanctions against Russia."

Poroshenko welcomed the "very strong statement" by Cameron Wednesday reiterating his readiness to intensify sanctions against Russia if Moscow continues to escalate the situation.

"We think that the third stage of the sanctions can help us to stop the aggression," he said.

Klitschko and Poroshenko went on to meet with about 150 Ukrainian demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street, who shouted "Crimea is Ukraine" and "Real sanctions now".

They listened to the protesters' concerns about rampant corruption in Ukraine, an issue that was also raised by British lawmakers when they met with Klitschko and Poroshenko earlier.

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© 2014 AFP

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