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Ukraine: Kyiv Positive Ahead Of Chornobyl Shutdown Talks

Kyiv, 9 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Ukraine's top Chornobyl negotiator said today he hopes the Group of Seven (G-7) countries and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will soon agree to pay millions of dollars to close the power plant.

Chernobyl will be on the G-7's agenda at its Denver summit next month when it considers a $ 780 million project to stabilise the concrete "sarcophagus" enclosing the ruined fourth reactor. It was the scene in 1986 of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.

The EBRD board is to decide at the end of this month on payment to construct two new reactors at the Khmelnytsky and Rivne nuclear power stations in western Ukraine, to replace power lost by closing Chornobyl. It is scheduled to close by the year 2000.

Yuri Kostenko, who is also Ukrainian environment minister, told a news conference after returning from talks with the EBRD board in London that Ukraine hopes the decisions will be positive. However, he said that if the EBRD doesn not grant the credits, Ukraine will be forced to review its schedule for closing Chornobyl.