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GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEET. Eduard Shevardnadze met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Kyiv on 28 January on the sidelines of the informal CIS summit, Caucasus Press reported. The talks lasted over two hours instead of the planned 40 minutes. Putin told journalists afterward that the passenger-train service that resumed last month between the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi and Sukhum will be suspended until the gradual repatriation of the Georgian displaced persons who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war gets under way. The suspension of the train service was one of three conditions that the Georgian National Security Committee set on 26 January before Georgia would agree to the renewal of the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed since 1994 under the CIS aegis in the Abkhaz conflict zone (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 2003). Shevardnadze said that the CIS summit participants might decide on 29 January on a renewal of the peacekeepers' mandate. Putin characterized his talks with Shevardnadze as "productive" and "useful," while Shevardnadze noted there are still "some unresolved issues" in bilateral relations, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

TAJIK, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS DRUG MENACE. Russian President Putin suggested to his Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmonov during talks on 28 January on the sidelines of the informal CIS summit in Kyiv that the two countries' intelligence services should cooperate more closely in an effort to stem the flow of drugs from Afghanistan via Tajikistan to Russia and Europe, Russian media reported. Putin noted that payments to Afghan farmers to induce them to stop cultivating opium poppies have not had the desired effect. Rakhmonov, for his part, sought to offload the blame for the growing stream of drugs onto Afghanistan. On 27 January, Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov and U.S. Ambassador to Dushanbe Franklin Huddle signed a bilateral agreement on combating drug trafficking, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Under that agreement, the United States will provide training programs and financial assistance worth $215,000 to the presidential Drug Control Agency and the Tajik Border Protection Committee. LF

KYIV HOSTS CIS SUMMIT... Four of the 12 presidents of the Commonwealth of Independent States for various reasons failed to arrive for the informal summit in Kyiv on 29 January, ITAR-TASS reported. Kazakhstan is represented by its state secretary, Turkmenistan by the head of the presidential administration, and Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan by their prime ministers. "There will be no politics here," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Serhiy Borodenkov told the agency. "Ukraine, as the summit organizer, will propose consideration of a package of economic issues, including the creation of a free-trade zone within the scope of the Commonwealth of Independent States." JM

...AT WHICH UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IS ELECTED TO HEAD CIS COUNCIL... Leonid Kuchma was elected to chair the Council of CIS Heads of State at the group's informal summit on 29 January, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported from Kyiv. Ukraine's status within the CIS is a point of dispute, since Ukrainian diplomats and officials routinely described it as an "associate member" throughout the 1990s because the Verkhovna Rada never ratified the 1994 CIS Charter. But Kuchma on 28 December noted that the same charter makes no mention of "associate member" status. Ukrainian Hromadske Radio on 15 January suggested that Ukraine's chairmanship of the CIS Heads of State Council might thus be "legally vulnerable" (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January 2003). AH

...ON RUSSIA'S INITIATIVE. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking to journalists after the CIS summit on 29 January, noted that Kuchma was elected on the initiative of the Russian side. "I made this proposal without taking counsel with other leaders, who feared this move might weaken the organization. But my logic was that Ukraine is one of the biggest CIS member states and the second by the economy volume," Putin said. He added that the rotation principle must be observed as well. Putin first proposed that Ukraine head the council in November. Before Kuchma, the CIS Councils of the Heads of State was led by Boris Yeltsin and Putin himself. JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA SIGN BORDER TREATY... Presidents Kuchma and Putin signed a treaty in Kyiv on 28 January defining the 2,063-kilometer land border between Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian and Russian media reported. It took four years for the two countries to delimit the frontier. Putin said the agreement is "not so much a pragmatic as a political document," according to ITAR-TASS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko said the same day that the two countries need a separate accord on the division of the Azov Sea. Commenting on the disagreements regarding the delimitation of the sea border, Zlenko said, "Ukraine thinks it necessary to divide the bottom and waters," while Russia suggests treating the sea as internal waters of the two countries. Meanwhile, a source at the Russian Foreign Ministry told ITAR-TASS that Article 5 of the signed treaty defines the status of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait as internal waters of Russia and Ukraine. JM

...AND NINE OTHER ACCORDS. Also on 28 January, Ukraine and Russia signed nine agreements relating to cooperation in education, health and youth, and information policies, Interfax reported. In particular, the documents concern the establishment and functioning of branches of Russian universities in Ukraine and Ukrainian ones in Russia, combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, and cooperation between the Ukrinform and the ITAR-TASS news agencies. "The quality of our relations has improved and mutual trust has grown. This is a solid foundation for our future relations," Putin said later the same day in a lecture at Kyiv's Shevchenko State University. "We are developing our relations as two European nations, both contributing to stability in Europe." JM

POLAND PROPOSES NEW EASTERN POLICY TO EU. Jaroslaw Pietras, an undersecretary of state on the Polish government's Committee for European Integration, confirmed a 28 January report in the "Financial Times" asserting that Poland has proposed to the European Union a new strategy for relations with Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Russia, Interfax reported. The British daily wrote that in a paper commissioned by the Danish EU Presidency last year, Warsaw proposed aid programs to promote stability, security, and prosperity in those countries. Other inducements suggested in the paper reportedly include the "long-term perspective" of EU membership and the establishment of a "European democracy fund" that would work through local nongovernmental organizations to promote democratic values in the region. JM

EXPECTED NEGOTIATIONS IN CHISINAU FAIL TO TAKE PLACE. Transdniester Foreign Minister Valerii Litskay failed to arrive in Chisinau on 28 January for the scheduled resumption of the negotiations with Moldova, Infotag reported. The news agency speculated that separatist leader Igor Smirnov might have ordered Litskay to stay home because William Hill, the new chief of the OSCE mission in Moldova, has not visited Tiraspol since his recent reappointment to the position. The negotiations are taking place under the sponsorship of the three mediators -- Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE. MS