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Ukraine: Four Countries Of Former Soviet Union Sign Economic Pact

Yalta, Ukraine; 19 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The presidents of four nations from the Commonwealth of Independent states (CIS) -- Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan -- signed an economic-cooperation agreement today in Ukraine. Russian news agencies reported that the agreement calls for the free movement of goods, capital, and labor, with common tariffs and customs. But the agreement says the process will be gradual, and each country will be free to determine its level of participation.

The agreement, which must be approved by the four countries' parliaments, came during a CIS summit in Yalta on the Black Sea. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said the grouping could be expanded to include other CIS states.

At their meeting today, CIS presidents and prime ministers were expected to approve a seven-year plan to expand economic ties among the 12 member nations.