UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WOOS FRENCH INVESTORS... Leonid Kuchma met with French investors in Paris on 7 December to brief them on the program of reforms he intends to implement in Ukraine during his second term in office, Interfax reported. Kuchma said priority will be given to reforming the budget and tax systems as well as the agricultural sector. He also pledged to create favorable conditions for the development and protection of small and medium-sized business. Answering a question about the repayment of Ukraine's foreign debt, Kuchma said there is "only one way out--to find mutual understanding with creditors." Ukraine, which has to repay more than $3 billion in 2000, hopes to restructure a part of this sum. JM

...WARNS RUSSIA OF 'GREAT LOSSES' IN UNION WITH BELARUS. In an interview with the 7 December "Le Monde," Kuchma said Ukraine is not going to join the Belarus-Russia Union. "We are not playing that game," he added. While noting that both Belarusians and Russians have the "sovereign right to unite," he said that Russia "will suffer great losses from this union." JM

UKRAINIAN CURRENCY CONTINUES TO FALL. Interfax reported on 7 December that on the interbank exchange the hryvnya continued its fall, reaching 5.27-5.32 to $1, before slightly improving. The National Bank's exchange rate on 7 December was 4.86 hryvni to $1. JM