TURKMEN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN COUNTERPARTS. Saparmurat Niyazov met with Boris Yeltsin in Istanbul on 18 November on the sidelines of the OSCE summit, Interfax reported. Yeltsin underscored Russia's willingness to expand and strengthen mutually advantageous relations with Turkmenistan. The two presidents also reached tentative agreement that the next CIS summit will be held in Ashgabat in May 2000. (The most recent summit was in Moscow in April.) Meanwhile, Niyazov agreed with his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, that a Ukrainian delegation headed by Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko will travel to Ashgabat in the near future to discuss the terms for resuming shipments of Turkmen gas to Ukraine. Ashgabat suspended those shipments in May 1999 in a dispute with Ukraine over that country's debts to Turkmenistan for earlier gas supplies and to Russia in transit fees for that gas. LF

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO ZERO-DEFICIT BUDGET. The parliament on 18 November approved in the first reading a zero-deficit draft budget for 2000 and sent it to the government for fine-tuning, Interfax reported. The government originally proposed a budget with a 0.4 percent surplus. Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the parliamentary Budget Committee, commented that the approval of the budget was a "colossal victory for the parliament." Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov said the government and the parliament continue to disagree over budget revenues and expenditure targets. He added that the budget cannot be submitted for a second reading before 10 December. JM

UKRAINIAN REGIONAL LEADERS WANT PUSTOVOYTENKO AS PREMIER. Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Dyomin told Interfax on 18 November that oblast administration heads, the Crimean prime minister, and heads of the Kyiv and Sevastopol city administrations have asked President Leonid Kuchma to reappoint Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko as head of a new cabinet. "We have no right to experiment, since [Pustovoytenko's] government has achieved positive results in its work, in particular, industrial growth," Dyomin said. Meanwhile, press speculation is rife as to who will be appointed prime minister. Apart from Pustovoytenko, newspapers mention deputy parliamentary speaker Viktor Medvedchuk, Deputy Premier Anatol Kinakh, Deputy Premier Serhiy Tyhypko, State Tax Administration head Mykola Azarov, and Security Service chief Leonid Derkach as the most likely candidates for the post. JM