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Georgian President In Ukraine On Visit

Georgian President Saakashvili (file photo) Kyiv, 24 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in Ukraine today for talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko aimed at expanding cooperation between the two Western-oriented states.

Joint energy and transport projects were expected to dominate negotiations when the two presidents meet tomorrow, but the unfolding events in Kyrgyzstan were also likely to be on the agenda. Both countries have offered to mediate.

Before leaving Georgia, Saakashvili said earlier today: "We offered [Kyrgyz] President Akayev to mediate and to solve the situation peacefully. Unfortunately, yesterday his response to our proposal was that all members of the opposition are criminals. Well, I strongly disagree with that. I am sure there are also very reasonable people there, and now we are appealing to the Kyrgyz opposition to give guarantees of physical security to the president, his family, and to avoid violence."

During his visit to Ukraine, to end on 26 March, Saakashvili was also expected to meet with Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Both Saakashvili and Yushchenko have advocated a pro-Western course. They have also talked about reviving a loose trade grouping of five ex-Soviet republics. In addition to Ukraine and Georgia, the group also includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova.

(RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service/AP)