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CIS: Leaders To Discuss Integration Agreement At Next Summit

Moscow, 28 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders of the 12 nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) ended a one-day summit today in Moscow without a final agreement on economic integration between the former Soviet republics in the grouping.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin told a concluding joint news conference that today's summit gave a "powerful political impulse to integration" but he also admitted that some of the leaders had criticized the CIS for being short on practical achievements. Earlier today Yeltsin was reelected Chairman of the CIS Council of Heads of State.

CIS Executive Secretary Ivan Korotchenya said a draft agreement on setting a single CIS economic area would be discussed at the next CIS summit in June, 1997.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov expressed his scepticism about closer integration, saying developments should not be forced and that CIS member-nations had created a commonwealth, "not a federation or confederation".

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who yesterday criticised Moscow's predominance in the CIS, today suggested Yeltsin had heeded some criticism of Russia's dominant role.

The CIS summit, which was also to discuss regional and ethnic disputes among the former Soviet republics, agreed to extend the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Tajikistan. Azerbaijan's President Heydar Aliyev told the news conference the issue of alleged Russian arms deliveries to Armenia was not discussed pending the completion of an official Russian investigation into the matter.