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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TROOPS FOR IRAQ. The Verkhovna Rada voted 273-103 on 5 June to endorse a proposal by President Leonid Kuchma to send a Ukrainian contingent of up to 1,800 troops to the Polish-administered stabilization zone in Iraq, Interfax reported. The proposal was backed by lawmakers from the pro-presidential majority as well as by 39 deputies from Our Ukraine and three deputies from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc. Other deputies from Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc joined those from the Socialist Party and the Communist Party in opposing the move. National Defense and Security Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk, who addressed lawmakers before the vote, warned that Ukrainian companies would have no chance of winning reconstruction contracts in Iraq if the parliament failed to dispatch Ukrainian peacekeepers to that country. Marchuk also said the United States has pledged compensation amounting to two-thirds of the estimated 69.4 million hryvnyas ($13 million) required for the deployment through the end of 2003. JM

LITHUANIA OFFERS FREE VISAS FOR UKRAINIANS. Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said in Kyiv on 4 June that Lithuania, in light of its imminent EU entry, is prepared to issue visas to Ukrainians free of charge if Lithuanian citizens are allowed to enter Ukraine without visas, Interfax reported. Brazauskas is in Ukraine for a three-day official visit. JM

POLAND LIKELY TO DELAY INTRODUCTION OF VISAS FOR UKRAINIANS. Marek Siwiec, head of the presidential National Security Office, said on 4 June that Poland will most likely introduce entry visas for Ukrainians later than 1 July, the date that was originally planned, PAP reported. Siwiec said Poland was planning to join the EU on 1 January 2004 when it set the 1 July deadline for issuing visas to Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians. He added that since EU accession was put off to 1 May 2004, the visa requirement can also be postponed. JM

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT WITH RUSSIAN OFFICIAL. Visiting Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov discussed ongoing efforts to resolve the Transdniester conflict with President Vladimir Voronin on 4 June, Infotag reported. They also discussed the future activities of the joint Moldovan-Transdniestrian commission on drafting a constitution for the future federal state, as well as the withdrawal of Russian troops from the separatist region. Trubnikov is heading the Russian delegation to a new round of negotiations due to start on 5 June between Tiraspol and Chisinau in the presence of the three mediators -- the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine. MS