Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Wednesday she had offered the post of prime minister to Sergei Tigipko, who came third in the first round of presidential elections, in exchange for his support in the runoff vote on February 7.

Tymoshenko, who will face opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych in the runoff vote, made the statement at a news conference in Kiev after meeting with Tigipko.

"I have offered him the post of prime minister," she said, adding she had proposed uniting their programs.

"Ninety percent [of Tigipko's policies] are my policies," she said.

Tymoshenko is desperate to win over voters who backed defeated candidates to consolidate her support base before the crucial battle with Yanukovych, who has a 10-percentage-point lead on her. 

However, former central bank chief Tigipko, who came in with 13.06% of the vote, went on record as saying he would not support either side, and that Ukrainian voters were capable of making up their own minds.

Both Yanukovych and Tymoshenko have indicated a desire to better relations with Moscow, soured in recent years over Kiev's NATO bid, gas disputes, and a host of other issues.


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