GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BAKU. Irakli Menagharishvili with his Azerbaijani counterpart and President Heidar Aliev in Baku on 7 July , Caucasus Press reported. The main issues discussed were cooperation within the Georgia-UkraineAzerbaijan -Moldova alignment, the Eurasian Transport Corridor, and selecting the optimum route for the Main Export Pipeline for Azerbaijani Caspian oil, which is likely to run through Georgia. The two sides reaffirmed their shared commitment to the Declaration of Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Caucasus, signed by Aliev and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in March 1996. That document abjures aggression, separatism, and terrorism. LF

NEW SPEAKER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT'S PROSPECTS. Oleksandr Tkachenko, newly elected speaker of the Ukrainian Supreme Council, told journalists on 8 July that he is optimistic about the parliament's potential and prospects, Ukrainian Television reported. "The current parliament is able to function and it will prove this in practical work," he commented. In his opinion, the parliament's main task is to pass legislation to overcome the economic crisis. He expressed his belief that Ukraine's three branches of power will find "deep state understanding." He added that he believes a parliamentary majority will be formed by September. And he announced that he does not intend to run in the 1999 presidential elections. JM

USAID LAUNCHES AID PROGRAM FOR CHORNOBYL CHILD VICTIMS. The United States Agency for International Development has started a new program to help cure child victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, AP reported on 8 July. The three-year, $4 million program will provide Ukraine's health care service with up-to-date methods of early detection of thyroid cancer and the necessary equipment to treat the disease. According to Ukrainian government officials, the number of registered cases of thyroid cancer among children in the areas polluted by radiation exceeds1,000. The aid program will be implemented chiefly in rural areas, where the health care system is underdeveloped. JM