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EU: Solana Has Talks In Ukraine And Macedonia

Kyiv, 19 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is scheduled today to conclude talks with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv before he goes on to Macedonia. Solana arrived in Kyiv yesterday. He met with Ukraine's national security chief, Yevhen Marchuk, and parliamentary speaker Ivan Pliushch.

Solana was expected to discuss the political situation in Ukraine and EU-Ukraine relations in talks with President Leonid Kuchma.

They also were expected to discuss the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, a reporter who had been critical of the president.

Kuchma's opponents have accused him of involvement in the killing, based largely on audiotapes made by a former bodyguard of conversations made in the president's office. Kuchma has adamantly denied the charges and says the tapes are fake.

Solana is set to arrive in Macedonia today to encourage the government to push ahead with talks with ethnic Albanian leaders.

Solana is due to meet President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Lubjco Georgievski, and other politicians. Last week, Macedonia signed a stabilization and association accord with the EU. Macedonia agreed to improve relations between its Slav majority and large ethnic Albanian community.

The EU supported Macedonia in its armed conflict with ethnic Albanian fighters last month. But it stressed the need to address the ethnic Albanians' concerns for more political and cultural rights.