Ukraine`s new Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych has said Kiev is not ready to join NATO because of public opposition to such a move, according to BBC.

      "We will have to take a pause," Mr Yanukovych said after talks with top NATO and EU officials in Brussels.

      At the same time, he said Kiev would continue to boost ties with the EU.

      Mr Yanukovych was named PM in August by his arch-rival President Viktor Yushchenko, on condition that he followed his pro-Western agenda.

      The move capped a dramatic comeback for Mr Yanukovych, who was ousted in Mr Yushchenko`s "Orange Revolution" in 2004.

      On his first visit to Brussels as prime minister, Mr Yanukovych said full NATO membership only had limited support among Ukrainians.

      He said Kiev was taking a pause "because of the political situation in Ukraine".

      "But the time will come when a decision will be made... For the time being we are looking at enlargement of our co-operation with NATO," he said.

      Opposition to NATO membership is particularly strong in eastern and southern Ukraine - the electoral strongholds of Mr Yanukovych`s party.

      Russia has also voiced strong opposition to Ukraine joining NATO.

      Kiev had earlier expressed hopes of joining the world`s biggest defence alliance in 2008.