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Russia/Ukraine: Yeltsin And Prime Minister Discuss Relations

Moscow, 16 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin met Ukraine's Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenklo in the Kremlin today and said relations between the two countries had significantly improved.

Yeltsin said that since he and Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma signed in May a long-awaited friendship and cooperation treaty, ties between Moscow and Kyiv had become "qualitatively different."

Yeltsin also said there there were constant contacts between the leaders of the two countries. He expressed hope that Pustovoitenko, appointed last July, would pursue the centuries-long policy of "strong cooperation" between Russia and Ukraine.

After the meeting, Yeltsin said the two countries would create a joint 10-year economic program. He also said Russia may rent out some Ukrainian shipyards to dismantle Russian submarines.

Pustovoitenko was due also to meet Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Rem Vyakhirev, head of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine were expected to top Pustovoitenko's agenda. The Kremlin said earlier that the division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, border questions and alcohol and sugar imports from Ukraine to Russia will also be discussed.