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Ukraine's Envoy To U.S. Proposed As Foreign Minister

Oleh Shamshur
KYIV (Reuters) -- President Viktor Yushchenko has proposed Ukraine's ambassador to the United States as foreign minister after his predecessor was sacked in the aftermath of a row with the prime minister.

The president's press service said the candidature of Oleh Shamshur would be submitted to parliament for approval. It was unclear when debate would take place or whether Shamshur, 53, would win sufficient support in the often fractious chamber.

The job of foreign minister is one of two cabinet posts proposed directly by the president under Ukraine's Constitution. A broader cabinet shuffle has long been expected, with the job of finance minister also vacant.

A career diplomat, Shamshur has also served as deputy minister and head of the ministry's section dealing with the European Union.

As he has been in Washington since 2005, Shmshur has been absent for much of Ukraine's turmoil between Ukraine's pro-Western leadership, generally pitting Yushchenko against his estranged ally, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ukraine's previous foreign minister, Volodymyr Ohryzko, was dismissed by parliament this month after clashing with Tymoshenko. Deputies said he sent a directive to Ukrainian embassies critical of the prime minister.

Ukraine's foreign policy, based on integrating with the West, is generally not subject to criticism, though the opposition Regions Party, friendlier to Russia, backs a more moderate, slower approach to closer ties and membership of NATO.

Tymoshenko has accused the president for being too strident in his criticism of Russia, particularly in his denunciation of Russia's military incursion into Georgia last year.