ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER IN GEORGIA. Robert Kocharyan met with Georgian President Shevardnadze, Minister of State Niko Lekishvili, and Parliamentary Speaker Zurab Zhvania in Tbilisi on 18 November , Armenian and Georgian agencies reported. Following talks on energy, trade, communications, and customs cooperation, Kocharyan and Lekishvili signed an agreement on avoiding dual taxation. Kocharyan emphasized Armenia's interest in using Georgian transportation conduits, especially in the Eurasian transport corridor, which will have ferry connections from Georgian Black Sea ports to Bulgaria and Ukraine. Only 20 percent of the cargo capacity of the existing railway from Armenia to Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti is currently being utilized. LF

UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS IMPROVING. Speaking at a press briefing on 18 November, Vladimir Solovei, the head of the CIS Department at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, positively assessed the outcome of Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais's 14 November visit to Kyiv. He also praised the results of the 16-17 November summit in Moscow between Russian President Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma. Solovei said Russian-Ukrainian relations are increasingly dominated by a pragmatic, calm, and rational approach. He said the agreement reached by Yeltsin and Kuchma on abolishing value-added tax will contribute to increasing bilateral trade turnover. LF

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FIXES MINIMUM PENSION. The parliament on 18 November reaffirmed its decision to peg the minimum pension in 1998 to the level of subsistence wages, ITARTASS reported. Such wages are set at 74 hryvnas ($39). President Kuchma refused to sign an earlier draft of the pension law fixing the minimum pension at this level on the grounds that the budget does not contain adequate funds. LF