The European Union should keep negotiating a trade pact with Ukraine despite the jailing of its former prime minister, but should not sign the deal unless Kiev shows a commitment to shared values, the EU foreign policy chief said on Wednesday.

Responding to the Tymoshenko verdict, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the European Parliament an offer to conclude an Association Agreement on closer trade and political ties with Kiev should not be taken off the table.

"I believe we should not walk away from the technical negotiations but continue them with the aim of having before us on the table, a document which makes it clear to both sides what is possible -- and also what will be lost," Ashton said, Reuters reports.

"But we can only sign such an agreement if we are convinced that the Ukrainian leadership believes in the values on which it is based, and is committed to upholding," she said.

Ashton said she would be discussing Ukraine with the president of the council of EU states, Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, on Thursday.

She said she had noted Yanukovich had expressed unhappiness at Ukraine's criminal code and recognised the need to change it.

"But frankly this is not enough," she said. "It does not excuse the authorities from the responsibility to guarantee a process fully in line with international standards."

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