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Georgia to sign EU pact by June: foreign minister

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(BERLIN) - Georgia will sign an association agreement with the European Union by June, the country's foreign minister said during a visit to Berlin on Thursday.

Maia Panjikidze made the comment at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"I assured the German foreign minister that Georgia ... will sign at the latest by June the association agreement with the EU," she said.

The pact was agreed in principle in November at an Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, together with Moldova. At the time, the announcement was overshadowed by Ukraine's shock turnaround in which it rejected the pact and turned towards Russia.

Steinmeier stressed that the recent turmoil in Ukraine -- which he described as "one of the most serious crises we have experienced in Europe" -- would not impact the signing of the EU agreement with Georgia.

"Preparations are ongoing and we are on schedule," he said.

Panjikidze said Steinmeier would visit Georgia this month, a trip not yet announced by his ministry.

"I hope to welcome you in 10 days in Tbilisi just as you have welcomed me," she said, to which Steinmeier replied, "I look forward to it".

Steinmeier and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius had planned to jointly visit Georgia and Moldova in early March, but the trip was cancelled amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

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