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New Ukrainian President Arrives In Moscow

Yushchenko following his presidential inauguration. 24 January 2005 -- Viktor Yushchenko arrived in Moscow today, making his first foreign trip as Ukrainian president to Russia.

Yushchenko is to hold talks in the Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin.

During the Ukrainian election campaign, Putin had shown a preference for Yushchenko's rival, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. But Putin has extended congratulations to Yushchenko after his triumph over Yanukovych in the 26 December revote.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said today relations between the two countries would remain strong. He pointed out that Russia and Ukraine are bound together by many ties going back centuries.

"Relations between Ukraine and Russia are defined by our history, geography, economy, and ultimately by the destinies of our people," Yakovenko said. "There is no other way but to develop these relations. Of course, the development of our relations is based, first and foremost, on the national interests of our two peoples and our two countries."

Before embarking on his trip today, Yushchenko said that Russia is a large country and Ukraine's lifelong neighbor. He expressed Ukraine's desire to live in peace with Russia.

(compiled from wire reports)