Dutch government prepares to ratify EU-Ukraine deal

The Netherlands' government has prepared legislation clearing the way for Parliament to vote on ratifying an EU-Ukraine free trade pact, despite Dutch voters rejecting the deal in a referendum.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday his Cabinet is sending the legislation to the Council of State, a body that advises the government on new laws.

The swift action came less than a day after European Union leaders agreed to Rutte's request for legally binding assurances including that the pact, which has been ratified by all other 27 member states, is not a stepping stone to EU membership.

The bill must still be approved by the Dutch House of Representatives and Senate. Rutte says he will have to work hard to ensure it passes both chambers.