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Ukraine has no plans to join NATO: PM

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Kiev, March 18: Ukraine's new prime minister said on Tuesday that the country had no plans to join NATO, said a AFP report.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in a televised address to the nation, said that "for the sole purpose of preserving the unity of Ukraine, the issue of (Ukraine's) accession to NATO is not on the agenda."

"The country will be defended by a strong and modern Ukrainian army," Yatsenyuk said.

The new prime minister, who has the support of western world, came to power since the February 22 ouster of Moscow-back president Viktor Yanukovych.

He is still due to sign in Brussels on Friday the political portion of a landmark EU pact whose rejection by the deposed government in November sparked protests that led to its fall.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the first steps to absorb Ukrainean region after a disputed weekend referendum in which an overwhelming majority of voters backed region splitting from Ukraine and joining Russia.

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