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Russia and Ukraine redefine ties


Talon

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Russia and Ukraine redefine ties

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Ukraine - the first such official Russian visit since liberal Viktor Yushchenko became Ukrainian president.

Mr Lavrov met Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who said Moscow and Kiev should "take a fresh look" at their relations.

Russia supported Mr Yushchenko's opponent in the controversial election.

It has not yet dropped fraud charges brought against Ms Tymoshenko in the heat of the election campaign.

"Excellent relations between the new Ukrainian government and the Russian Federation's government should begin from our meeting", Ms Tymoshenko told Mr Lavrov.

On the eve of the talks, largely devoted to economic issues, Mr Lavrov said he expected that Russian companies would enjoy the same rights as other foreign investors in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Era radio quoted him as saying Ms Tymoshenko had "unequivocally supported" the Single Economic Space Treaty, signed by four former Soviet republics - Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

No more 'near abroad'

Ms Tymoshenko was one of the driving forces behind the Ukrainian "orange revolution" that resulted in the pro-Western opposition's victory over Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovych.

Ms Tymoshenko's appointment as prime minister was seen by many analysts in Moscow as a challenge to Russia.

Russia's prosecutor-general wants her to appear before investigators in Moscow to answer questions about her alleged involvement in a fraud case.

Mr Lavrov said on Sunday that Russia no longer applied the term "near abroad", reserved for former Soviet republics, to Ukraine and Georgia.

Ukraine's non-violent political upheaval, involving huge street protests, has been compared to Georgia's November 2003 "rose revolution". In both cases leaders identified with old Soviet-era power structures were ousted.

"As far as the transformation of these countries from the 'near abroad' to the 'abroad' is concerned, we view them as absolutely sovereign, absolutely equal states in the new geopolitical architecture," said Mr Lavrov.

He came to Ukraine after visiting the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, where he met President Mikhail Saakashvili, the country's pro-Western leader who has had difficult relations with Moscow since coming to power.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4283973.stm

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Bush meets new Ukrainian leader

US President George W Bush has held a brief meeting with Ukraine's new liberal president, Viktor Yushchenko.

The 15-minute meeting took place in Brussels just ahead of talks between Nato and Ukraine, which is seeking to join the alliance.

Earlier Mr Bush called upon his European allies to welcome Ukraine "into the Euro-Atlantic" family.

But correspondents say talk of the ex-Soviet republic being considered for Nato membership is premature.

Mr Yushchenko was sworn in last month, after a bitterly fought marathon presidential race against a Moscow-backed rival, Viktor Yanukovych.

The poll exposed divisions between the pro-Russian east of the country and the west, which looks more towards the European Union.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4286693.stm

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