Ukraine's recently appointed prime minister, Yuriy Yekhanurov, said during a visit to Moscow that Russia is his country's "main partner" and that Russian businesses will be allowed to keep anything they bought in Ukraine's controversial privatization process in the 1990s.
"We gave a clear signal to Russian and other foreign businesses [in Ukraine] that we would work in a civilized manner and the problem of re-privatization would no longer concern our partners," Yekhanurov said.
Yekhanurov was speaking to reporters after talks with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov in his first trip abroad since taking office last week
After the meeting, Fradkov was quoted by Interfax as saying that he and Yekhanurov had agreed to give their energy ministers instructions to "intensify" work on resolving Ukraine's difficulties in obtaining natural gas.
Also today, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed simplifying customs procedures in a telephone conversation.
A statement from Yushchenko's office said the two presidents agreed that the Russian and Ukrainian governments should focus on issues important for ordinary citizens.
Putin later today met with Prime Minister Yekhanurov.
"We are perfectly aware that [economic] growth rates [in Ukraine] have plummeted and other systemic problems have emerged," ITAR-TASS quoted Putin as telling the Ukrainian prime minister. "You are an experienced and effective person. We hope you will be able to shift this trend in reverse, to preserve the level of cooperation we have had with Ukraine over the past few years and to give a fresh impetus to cooperation."
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