Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Thursday that his government is ready to begin a fresh round of negotiations with the European Union (EU) over landmark political-economic deals. "We need to start pragmatic talks with the EU concerning conditions for signing an association agreement and establishing a free trade area," Azarov said at a cabinet meeting. During the negotiations, Kiev and Brussels should reach consensus on economic cooperation, he said. Ukraine was expected to sign an association agreement with the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius on Nov. 28-29, but put the deal on hold in favor of closer trade ties with Russia instead. The announcement triggered waves of protests in major Ukrainian cities. Although no official deadline has yet been set for the new talks, the prime minister stressed the importance of launching the negotiations in the near future. While developing ties with the EU, Ukraine will also focus on the practical implementation of the agreement with Russia on industrial cooperation, Azarov added.