Ukraine and the European Union could conclude talks on a new partnership treaty in the first half of 2008, during Slovenia`s six month EU presidency, the Slovenian ambassador to Ukraine said on Monday, according to RIA Novosti.

"We expect the talks to be completed during our European Union presidency, and concluded in 2008," Primoz Seligo said.

The current Partnership and Cooperation Treaty between the ex-Soviet republic and the EU expires in 2008. A new, seventh round of Ukraine-EU talks is scheduled to open in Brussels in March, while the eighth round could take place in Kiev in June. Ukraine wants a new treaty to seal the prospects of the country`s EU membership, while the European Union does not yet envision such a possibility.

Slovenia assumed the EU rotating presidency on January 1, and will hand it over to France on July 1.

Meanwhile, the ambassador of the European Commission to Ukraine and Belarus, Ian Boag, said the talks on a new treaty depended on the negotiations on creating a free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU.

"In turn, this depends on the results of the talks on Ukraine`s membership in the World Trade Organization," Boag said.