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UZBEK, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS GAS EXPORTS. Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, has telephoned his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma to discuss possible routes for exporting natural gas from Central Asia to Europe and developing bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 April. LF
UKRAINIAN PREMIER SEEKS COMPROMISE WITH OPPOSITION... Viktor Yushchenko made an overture on 18 April to opposition parliamentary deputies seeking to oust his government by proposing that they nominate candidates to a few cabinet positions, AP reported. Yushchenko, who faces a no-confidence vote in his government in the next nine days, said that the pro-presidential majority bloc in parliament could select candidates for the vacant posts of deputy premier and minister of industry and trade, as well as seats on the oversight boards of certain ministries. Yushchenko's first deputy, Yuriy Yekhanurov, said that deputies could also lodge complaints against ministers they view as unsatisfactory and propose other candidates for their posts. If his offer is rejected, the no-confidence vote is likely to be held. Recent polls show that Yushchenko is the most trusted politician in Ukraine. PB
...AS PARLIAMENT SAYS IT IS UNSATISFIED WITH GOVERNMENT. The Ukrainian parliament declared in a vote on 19 April that it finds the country's government "unsatisfactory," Reuters reported. A resolution on the subject passed by a vote of 283-65. There are 450 seats in the parliament. Parliamentarians were expected to set a date for the noconfidence vote later in the session. PB
EU FOREIGN POLICY AND SECURITY CHIEF IN KYIV. Javier Solana met with Ukrainian National Security chief Yevhen Marchuk and parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch on 18 April to discuss the political situation in the country and foreign policy issues, AP reported. Solana was also scheduled to meet at the country home of President Leonid Kuchma. Plyushch said he reported on some of the positive economic developments in Ukraine and said after the meeting that he told Solana that "some [politicians] want to claim the best achievements, others want to erase those achievements and still others...want to bring the government down." PB
HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER REASSURES KYIV ON VISA RESTRICTIONS. Janos Martonyi said on 18 April in Kyiv that Hungary will try to simplify more restrictive travel regulations for Ukrainians once Budapest joins the EU, AP reported. Martonyi met with his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Zlenko and also discussed economic cooperation and trade relations. Martonyi said Budapest will not require visas for Ukrainians before it joins the EU, which is expected as early as 2004. And he said Hungary will try to simplify visa procedures and expedite the time needed to enter Hungary by modernizing border crossings. Martonyi also met with President Kuchma and said afterward that the countries have no political differences. PB