Kyiv, 5 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has announced that the Chornobyl nuclear power plant will close permanently by December 15. Kuchma made the announcement following talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton today in Kyiv. Clinton said the United States will provide $78 million to repair a containment shell built around the remains of the Chornobyl reactor that exploded 14 years ago. Chornobyl reactor number three has operated almost continuously since 1986, when another Chornobyl reactor exploded and spread radioactive fallout over a large part of Europe. Clinton, who stopped for a six-hour visit to Ukraine, said today's announcement is an important step toward Ukrainian integration into Europe.