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RUSSIA, PAKISTAN SEEK CLOSER TIES. President Putin met in the Kremlin on 5 February with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Putin noted that relations between the two countries have developed rapidly since Pakistan joined the international antiterrorism coalition following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. During his three-day visit to Moscow, Musharraf will work to boost economic ties with Russia and to strengthen military cooperation, even though Russia is the main military supplier to India, commented on 5 February. Moscow is also interested in closer military ties with Pakistan, whose main military suppliers at present are China and Ukraine. Pakistan's trade volume with Russia in 2002 was about $98 million, compared with $1 billion in trade with Ukraine. VY

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SLAMS U.S. DRIVE TOWARD WAR WITH IRAQ. The Verkhovna Rada on 4 February passed a resolution condemning apparent U.S. plans to launch an attack against Iraq, UNIAN reported. The resolution was supported by 243 of the 427 deputies registered in the session hall. The same day, President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine will respect any decision by the UN Security Council on Iraq. "We share the concern that Iraq might have chemical, bacteriological, or nuclear weapons," Kuchma noted. JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA REGISTER INTERNATIONAL GAS-TRANSPORT CONSORTIUM. Ukraine's Naftohaz and Russia's Gazprom have registered an international consortium to manage the transport of natural gas across Ukraine, UNIAN reported on 4 February, quoting Naftohaz head Yuriy Boyko. The consortium is being set up on a parity basis under last year's agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian governments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 2002). The same day, President Kuchma said other countries, including Italy and France, might be invited to participate in the consortium. Kuchma said trilateral Ukrainian-Russian-German talks on the consortium, originally scheduled for this week, have been postponed until July, "not at Ukraine's initiative." JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DECRIES POOR RELATIONS WITH WASHINGTON... President Kuchma told a news conference on 4 February that he regrets the lack of improved relations between Ukraine and the United States since the beginning of the year, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. "On my word, I do not know what else we need to do to change the mind of the United States," Reuters quoted Kuchma as saying. The Ukrainian president reiterated that Ukraine has proven its innocence to U.S. and British experts probing allegations that Kyiv sold Kolchuga radar systems to Iraq despite UN sanctions. The Bush administration in its 2004 budget request cut aid allocations to Ukraine to $94 million from $155 million planned for 2003. JM

...URGES PARLIAMENT TO AMEND ANTI-MONEY-LAUNDERING LEGISLATION... At the same 4 February news conference, President Kuchma called on lawmakers to amend a number of economic laws this week in order to make the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) "more loyal to Ukraine," UNIAN reported. A dozen countries have so far heeded a FATF recommendation to introduce sanctions against Ukraine over the country's lax effort to combat money laundering. "We were warned about the introduction of sanctions two years ago, and [only] we are to blame for delaying the adoption of appropriate laws and making a political problem out of an economic one," Kuchma said. JM

...AND PLEDGES TO SUBMIT CONSTITUTIONAL-REFORM BILL. Also on 4 February, President Kuchma pledged to submit a draft bill to parliament this month on amending the constitution and reforming the political system in Ukraine, UNIAN reported. "There is no sense in waiting until the Constitutional Commission starts to work," Kuchma said, referring to the body he created following his announcement in August of systemic political reform in Ukraine. "It is necessary to transfer the discussion [of political reform] to the parliamentary hall and move on," he added. Kuchma also expressed his conviction that the current cabinet of Premier Viktor Yanukovych will survive until the presidential election in 2004. JM

POLAND ACCEPTS EU OFFER OF MIXED FARM SUBSIDIES. The Polish government on 4 February accepted the EU's proposal of a hybrid system of direct farm subsidies, PAP reported, quoting Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller. Under the EU-proposed system, in the first year of EU membership all Polish farmers would get 25 percent of the full EU subsidy based on farm size. Higher production-based grants would only be given to farmers whose products are subsidized within the EU. Following the EU summit in Copenhagen in December, Miller told Polish farmers that all of them will receive 55, 60, and 65 percent of the full EU subsidy over the first three years of EU membership, respectively, based on farm size (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 4 February 2003). Miller admitted that after the Copenhagen summit he assumed that all farm subsidies will be paid out under one system and did not realize that payments above the 25 percent level are subject to other laws. Agriculture Minister Jaroslaw Kalinowski backed the mixed subsidy system. "I can say with full responsibility that what we have secured for ourselves in Copenhagen and later during the year is good and will give Polish agriculture a chance for growth," Kalinowski said. JM