Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksander Shlapak says he is
negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a loan package
of $15 billion to $20 billion because the economy had been severely
weakened by months of political turmoil and mismanagement.
U.S. President Barack Obama has also urged the IMF to reach
agreement swiftly on a financial support package for Kiev, which
would unlock additional aid from the European Union and Washington.
Asked about aid for Ukraine, China, whose President Xi Jinping
discussed Ukraine with Obama on Monday, said that the government
"upholds the maintaining of Ukraine's financial stability".
"International financial organizations ought to get down to dealing
with this, to ensure Ukraine's financial and economic stability,"
foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
He did not elaborate, instead repeating that China had proposed
setting up an international coordination mechanism to look for a
political solution to the crisis over Russia's annexation of
Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
China, he said, hoped all parties in the international community
would take no actions to worsen the situation.
China has adopted a cautious, low-key response to the crisis, not
wanting either to alienate key ally Russia or comment directly on
the referendum in which Crimea voted overwhelmingly to join Russia,
lest it set a precedent for its own restive regions, like Tibet.
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But China has also said it would like to continue to develop
"friendly cooperation" with Ukraine and that it respects Ukraine's
independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, since ousted after three
months of sometimes violent protests, visited China in December in
the hope of winning much-needed financial aid, but China did not say
it would provide any loans.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Ron Popeski)
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