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Russia/Ukraine: Presidents Form 'Strategic Group'

Moscow, 17 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, have agreed to create what is being called a "strategic group" to focus on bilateral issues.

ITAR-TASS says the agreement was the main result of two-days of unofficial talks between the two leaders, which ended today at Yeltsin's country residence at Zavidovo outside Moscow. The agency says the Ukrainian and Russian presidents also called on their countries' respective parliaments to ratify a friendship accord signed in May.

Kuchma and Yeltsin also agree on the necessity to rescind value-added taxes in their trade relations. The two countries have close trade links, with Russia acounting for about 40 percent of Ukraine's total exports last year.

ITAR-TASS says soon after his talks with Yeltsin, Kuchma was to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for closed-door informal discussions.